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Quadra sewer users want onerous rates rolled back

Increases are “totally ridiculous” and the SRD has “totally mismanaged the system”
Quathiaski Cove Landing Pub owner Joe Duprey leads ratepayer protest over onerous sewer rate hikes.

A group of Quathiaski Cove ratepayers on Quadra Island has asked the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) to rollback onerous sewer system charges they say they can’t afford.

In one year charges for the 101 property owners hooked up to the sewer system have skyrocketed. The basic residential charge has gone from $299 in 2011 to $692. The basic commercial rate has increased from $1,196 to $2,769. And, the school rate has soared from $7,774 to $17,997.

Quathiaski Cove Landing Pub owner Joe Duprey, who is paying more than $3,400 to flush his toilets, says the increases are “totally ridiculous” and the SRD has “totally mismanaged the system.”

On Friday Duprey and eight of his fellow ratepayers met with the SRD Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Brian Reardon and placed several demands on the table including a rollback of the increases.

Reardon said the meeting was “very productive,” but a rollback is “not possible” because the sewer rates are set in bylaws approved by the board. “This was the first of a few meetings that will be needed moving forward. We are reviewing the list of requests,” the CAO said.

Other ratepayer demands include: An updated comparative list of other sewer charges in B.C.; an explanation from the SRD directors that voted for the new charges; an audit of the current budget related to the 2012 taxes; an audit of sewer repairs and maintenance performed by the SRD since 2008; and, the formation of a joint SRD and ratepayers committee to find a solution.

“We have the most expensive sewer system in B.C. We simply cannot afford to pay these increased rates and keep our heads above water,” Duprey told the Mirror.

The pub owner said a petition is being circulated amongst system users to support the protest.

“A number of our neighbours have lost all confidence in this form of government, but are afraid to come forward for fear of reprisals.,” he said.

The system, originally private, was sold to the Comox Strathcona Regional District (CSRD) 12 years ago for $1. Two years later the CSRD implemented what was supposed to be a one-time only rate increase.

“The (reconstituted) SRD took over this asset in 2008 and has stated it has no obligation to live up to the CSRD commitment,” Duprey said.

The ratepayers would like the SRD to consider spreading the cost of the sewer system beyond the service area because it has community wide benefits.

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