Council is moving forward with extending its southern boundary even though it could put the city $3.9 million into debt.
If northern Area D residents vote in a June referendum to join the city, Campbell River taxpayers will be on the hook to pay off the debt. The city is expected to use the alternate approval process for Campbell River voters which means the city can move forward with the boundary extension if no more than 10 per cent of registered voters sign and submit an opposition form to city hall.
Myriah Foort, the city’s finance manager, told council Tuesday night that it would take several years to pay off the debt associated with the project.
“The cost to city residents would be a $24 increase to the water fees (annually) and that’s to pay off the debt we would incur to do this project,” Foort said. “It’s a one-time increase that will continue on for 20 years, until we repay the debt.”
The project involves extending sewer service to 535 Area D properties. In order to receive the sewer service, residents who stand to benefit are required to join the city. That means the city is looking at extending its boundary south to Woods Creek and east into the Strait of Georgia (Salish Sea) approximately 500 metres.
Coun. Larry Samson and Mayor Walter Jakeway voted against submitting the city’s final boundary extension proposal to the province for approval.
“I find the costs to the city of Campbell River at $3.9 million an extra burden that we’re putting on our taxpayers,” Samson said. “A couple of other reasons I will not be supporting this motion – I believe the city is still dealing with boundary extensions up in Quinsam Heights and North Campbell River when we see drainage problems in the Woodburn area, when we’re dealing with Petersen Road, when we’re dealing with Quinsam Heights having the highest DCCs (Development Cost Charges) in the city. Campbell River is moving at such a rapid pace right now, I think this is one of the last things we need to take on at this time.”
Coun. Ron Kerr, who lives in the Quinsam Heights area, said there are some people in the neighbourhood that still question whether they should have voted in favour of joining the city 24 years ago.
“We had a choice back then to come into the city or not,” Kerr said. “Maybe we shouldn’t have gone down this road but we’re here now. Let’s move on. Let’s have a vote and move on.”
Coun. Andy Adams agreed that Area D residents should have the chance to have their say.
“If they don’t want it, that’s their prerogative and I would certainly respect that,” Adam said. “If you’re happy with the septic system then so be it but the city of Campbell River has incurred significant capital infrastructure costs for future planning to accommodate the projected potential population growth in Area D and those have been done through the Willow Point upgrades and (the future) phase two up to Rockland Road. I want to get a resolution to this so our city staff can move forward with capital upgrades without incurring speculative additional capital costs and we can just kind of move on.”
Coun. Claire Moglove said it’s up to each resident whether or not they want to join the city and that the city isn’t imposing anything on Area D.
“If the people in the affected area of Area D, if they are interested in having sewer, then vote ‘yes.’ If they don’t really want to have sewer and want to keep the status quo, they vote ‘no,’” Moglove told the crowd gathered at city hall. “It’s important that the referendum go ahead, that you have your say.”
Coun. Mary Storry agreed that it only seemed “fair and reasonable” that the people who are affected have a say in their own futures.
Details of Campbell River’s final proposal for a boundary extension and sewer service in the area will continue to be posted on the city’s website and be shared through a newsletter to affected properties as well as two more open house events before a June referendum. The next open house will be held Wednesday, April 30 from 5-8 p.m. at Oyster Bay Resort (4357 South Island Highway).