Area D water rates rising

Water rates in Area D will be going up – at least for the moment

Director Brenda Leigh has agreed to move forward with increasing water rates for Area D after holding out for a better rate.

Strathcona Regional District staff said rates need to go up 21 per cent over 2012 rates in order to meet the regional district’s 2013 budget projection of $351,721 in user rate revenues.

At last Thursday board meeting, Leigh said she would support the move in order to ensure her constituents are not hit with a deficit come December 31 – the last day water bills can be paid without incurring interest charges.

“At the moment I’m in favour of this…to protect my people from a potential deficit,” Leigh said.

“I’m hoping that we’ll end up with a surplus.”

The regional district has been negotiating with Area D’s water supplier, the city of Campbell River, for almost two years on a new contract.

The city, which supplies bulk water to the northern portion of Area D (Crawford Road area), upped its rate from $0.40 per cubic metre to $0.80 per cubic metre once the water supply agreement expired in May 2012.

The new rate was effective as of January 1, 2013 but Leigh has been fighting for a better rate; at a board meeting in July, Leigh convinced the board to hold off on making a decision until after August 1.

“It’s quite an unfair situation and we’re trying to get it fair,” Leigh said.

“The rate in 2012 was $232 per household, in 2013 the rate is up to $260, which is a $28 increase on the inch, not including the rates paid through taxes which is 100 per cent more. Area D is presented with a 121 per cent increase, which we’re trying to negotiate downward.”

Leigh has reached out to B.C. Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes for help and said she is “very supportive” of a fair solution.

The city maintains that its water rate is fair and the increase will bring Area D customers in line with the city’s fee structure for all water users outside city boundaries.

The city’s rates are established based on the funding required to cover the annual operating and maintenance costs for the water system, as well as upgrading and replacing the various components of the water system such as pipes, pumps, treatment facilities, and reservoirs, as the water system ages.

Water rates are higher for customers located outside the city limits to reflect the higher cost of delivering water to the outer limits of the city’s water system and to compensate for water charges that customers within city boundaries pay, but that the city is unable to collect from customers outside the city limits.