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CAO: No more properties can join first phase of Quadra Island sewer expansion

Three more properties are on their way to getting sewer service on Quadra Island as part of an expansion project.

The properties, located on the island’s Pidcock Road, asked to be included last July but the regional district wasn’t able to immediately make a decision on the request.

But after the project engineer confirmed that the properties could be added without affecting design plans and cost estimates, the Strathcona Regional District board recently went ahead with giving second reading to a bylaw that will accommodate inclusion of the properties.

Dave Leitch, the regional district’s chief administrative officer, said no more allowances, however, will be made for additional properties to join onto the first phase of the sewer expansion.

“In order to avoid moving the project parameters the engineer is working with, all further requests received to have properties included in this first phase, will be deferred to a future potential second phase,” Leitch wrote in a report to the regional district board.

Since the project was approved by Quadra Islanders in a July, 2014 referendum, several properties have asked to join on to the sewer expansion.

Project delays have allowed those extra properties to be included in the first phase which will expand sewer coverage in Quathiaski Cove.

The biggest hurdle has been construction costs.

Bids to undertake the work came in over $900,000 early last year, which exceeded the regional district’s budget.

That put the project on hold until last fall when the regional district was informed that not only was it successful in securing a New Building Canada grant but that the federal government was upping its portion of the funding from one-third to half.

That means the regional district now only has to pay 17 per cent of the project costs (the provincial government pays one-third) instead of all three levels of government pitching in one-third.

Under the new funding formula, the federal government will provide $684,425 of the project costs, while the province will contribute $451,720, leaving the regional district to make up the remaining $232,705.

The project will add roughly 45 to 47 new Quathiaski Cove properties to the existing sewer system on Quadra Island.

Quadra Director Jim Abram has said he’s been trying for seven years to expand the sewer system on the island and in the process, lower the cost for those already on the system.

Residential basic rates have soared from $250 in 1999 to $510 in 2015.

In 2012, rates were as high as $692 which prompted affected property owners to petition the regional district for some form of relief.

Abram has always maintained that the way to lower those costs is by adding additional properties onto the system.

Abram said that costs for each single property owner will be reduced as more people join the sewer service and  share in the cost of operating and maintaining the system through user fees.

Now with the regional district board approving the change to its bylaw to include the three additional properties, the owners are responsible for preparing a petition to obtain approval to be added to the sewer expansion.

Once that is complete, the board can then proceed with securing approval from the province’s Inspector of Municipalities to change the bylaw.

Final approval of the bylaw by the regional district board is expected by April.

Meanwhile, the sewer project is projected to get underway sometime this spring which would mean property owners could potentially hook up to the sewer system by this fall.

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