Area D’s water utility is not paying for itself, in part because of heavy use. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Regional district considers water rate hikes south of Campbell River

Utility rates failing to meet costs or generate reserve funds

The water utility in the Strathcona Regional District’s Area D seems to have sprung a leak, as the service is facing higher costs versus revenue.

A recent SRD Electoral Area Services Committee report outlines the issue the Strathcona Regional District is facing. Revenue from the water rates in 2017 totalled $522,475, which fell short by $221,390. Later, the report suggests the amount of revenue is half of what would be required to break even in 2018. The SRD is estimating it will need $1,001,951 in revenue from user rates.

According to the Local Government Act, regional district boards must set utility fees and charges at rates sufficient to recover any expenditures. The SRD board is now in a position where it must consider steep rates hikes.

The recent SRD report suggests the cost of the utility is going up both from the bulk water supplier, which is the City of Campbell River, as well as from increasing use by residents. Water use has gone from 621,664 cubic metres in 2013 to almost 850,000 cubic metres in 2017. The 2018 level is 970,547 cubic metres.

From anticipated expenses, the cost of the bulk water makes up the largest portion. There are some expected additional expenses from administration, maintenance, operations and studies or engineering fees. Currently, there is a study underway to look for alternate sources. At present, nothing is set aside as a transfer to reserve funds for future capital costs, such as new infrastructure or failing water mains, with the deficit estimated at $221,390.

The question of water service rate hikes is not new for the SRD, as five years ago the regional district board visited the issue but held off on increasing Area D rates.

RELATED STORY: Area D water rate hikes put off for now

Area D Director Brenda Leigh told the Mirror she could not speak to the matter at this time.

“I can’t talk about that right now because there’s some in-camera matters,” she said.

She also questioned why a member of the SRD board from outside the area made the motion. Minutes from the May 9 meeting indicated Mayor John MacDonald of Sayward made the motion to bring an Area D water rates bylaw to the next board meeting on May 24. The motion passed with Leigh voting in opposition.

“I have no idea what it has to do with Sayward,” she said.

The committee report shows the board could be considering a proposal to raise rates for commercial metered customers to $1.45 per cubic metre and to $1.36 per cubic metre for residential customers on meters, representing hikes of more than $0.16 and $0.19 from 2017 rates, respectively. Most residential customers pay a flat rate, though, and could see their rates jump from $402 up to $800 per dwelling unit for the year.

There are roughly 1,200 property owners in the northern portion of the Area D that are covered by the water service. Of these, only about four per cent are on water meters. In all, there are 42 metered connections, of which 12 are commercial. The large majority of residential customers pay flat rates.

Just Posted

No injuries after collapsed floor traps worker at former mill in Campbell River – fire chief

Company says it’s investigating after incident at decommissioned Catalyst facility

Jolly Giant convenience store robbed in Campbell River

Campbell River RCMP asking for public’s help in identifying suspect

MARS seeing influx of sick, injured eagles from north part of Vancouver Island

Factors for increase in eagle cases can be anything from lead poisoning to vehicle strikes

Bowl for Breath on Feb. 2 and 3 supports work on cystic fibrosis

School registration forms for Campbell River event are due Jan. 18

Campbell River Storm blow away Glacier Kings on the road

Team remains well in the lead league-wide and a whopping 23 points up on Nanaimo in the division

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Suspect allegedly armed with handgun robs Island gas station

Incident occurred Sunday night in Nanaimo

Most Read