Campbell River could extend its southern boundary as early as this fall if affected residents give their consent.
The city intends to hold a spring referendum to ask about 1,235 people (537 properties) whether they support joining the city in order to receive city sewer services.
If the referendum is successful, the proposal could go to the province for approval by fall 2014 – the final step before implementation which would happen in two phases.
The city’s proposal is conditional upon the Strathcona Regional District agreeing to transfer a $3.4 million grant and on senior governments agreeing to extend the date for use of the grant.
New details about the city’s expansion proposal were released Friday in a report by consultant Urban Systems, which studied the viability of a boundary extension to take in a portion of the Strathcona Regional District’s Electoral Area D.
If the proposal is successful, the city stands to gain $1 million in property tax revenues and $344,000 in additional revenues, such as from user fees, each year. Operating impacts to the city are estimated at approximately $775,000 per year.
The city will also incur several millions of dollars in costs to extend its sewer system south.
According to the study, phase one, which would incorporate 208 properties south of the city boundary at Jubilee Parkway and Highway 19A, will cost the city approximately $9.16 million in capital, which includes city upgrades to the system and inflationary factors.
Of that amount, $1 million worth of upgrades has already been constructed and a $3.4 million Building Canada Fund program grant awarded in 2006 to the regional district is still valid until March 31, 2015.
That leaves $4.7 million unfunded. According to the boundary report, the city has committed to honour a 2006 referendum in Area D in which residents approved borrowing $9,300 each to fund sewer improvements.
The city, on top of that figure, would charge a one-time connection fee of $1,800 per property, for a total of $11,100 per property owner.
That leaves $2.4 million to be funded through the existing sewer utility program, which represents an increase of approximately $14 per year or about 5.7 per cent.
Properties that join the city would also see their taxes go up roughly 44 per cent, according to Urban Systems’ report.
“For a typical residential property within the city of Campbell River with sanitary sewer services, taxes and utilities have been calculated at approximately $3,565,” reads the report. “This compares to $2,481 for a similar property in the study area without sanitary sewer, or a difference of $1,084.”
Brenda Leigh, Area D director, has said her constituents will not vote to join Campbell River partly because of the higher taxes.
“I do not believe that the people of Area D are interested in being annexed into Campbell River or being governed by them in order to get those services. Area D wants basic services at fair prices,” Leigh has said.
“That’s something that the people of Area D should decide after a full and independent presentation of all the factors, and through referendum.”
Leigh has consulted with the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development to ensure there is a full, and fair period of public consultation.
If Area D residents do vote to join the city, the electoral area will still exist, albeit its population will go down.
The city also intends to offer annexation to properties south of McGimpsey Road, as part of phase two, if the city can successfully pursue and secure grants to extend sewer services.
A public consultation session with affected property owners is expected to begin within the next few months, to work towards a referendum this spring.
Council had Urban Systems’ boundary extension study before them for consideration at its Tuesday evening council meeting.