City pulls the plug on Area D sewer agreement

Campbell River councillor says the city won't be getting a fair deal if southern community ties into sewage system

  • Jul. 31, 2012 7:00 a.m.

The City of Campbell River has withdrawn its offer to provide sewer services to Area D of the Strathcona Regional District.

“We sent a proposal to Area D last September to see if we could develop an agreement that would be beneficial to both the city and Area D,” said city councillor Mary Storry, who holds the council portfolio for utilities and public works.

“We appreciate the amount of effort that has gone into trying to negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement, and since we’ve been unable to finalize an agreement that would recover all city costs, council has determined that it’s in the best interest of Campbell River taxpayers to withdraw our offer to provide sewer services for Area D.”

The announcement was made by the city Tuesday morning as the Mirror was going to press.

Long-time Area D regional director Brenda Leigh could not be reached for comment, chief administrative officer Brian Reardon was away on vacation and no one else at the regional district was willing to speak on the record.

Based on discussions going back to 2006, the city sent regional district a proposal last September to provide liquid waste treatment as part of a draft master service agreement.

The agreement also covered transit and water supply, and proposed service costs were comparable for city and Area D residents. Rather than accepting a master service agreement, the regional district requested a separate agreement for each service.

Council wanted to negotiate a fair and equitable contribution from the regional district to provide sewer services to residents of Area D closest to the southern boundary of Campbell River.

“The proposed rates for sewer services took into account that people living in Area D do not pay development cost charges to the city,” said Storry.

Development cost charges are a one-time levy to fund infrastructure upgrades related to new growth. These charges ensure that new development contributes to infrastructure costs, rather than relying on existing property owners to subsidize growth.

“For the city to provide sewer service to Area D, upgrades to the c ity’s existing sewer system would be required, and it is the city’s view that these costs should be recovered,” said Storry.

She added that council also agreed it would be inappropriate to subsidize development outside the city.

“With the loss of the industrial tax base and related property tax increases for residents, we are reviewing all existing and potential service agreements,” she said.

The city is still in the process of updating bulk water delivery and transit service agreements with Area D.