The Strathcona Regional District board finalized its rate bylaw for water rates in Area D at the latest board meeting.
As planned, the board adopted the bylaw at the April 11 meeting that will bring in hikes again aimed at having the system pay for itself.
The issue has been contested in the SRD boardroom and the courts this past year, as Area D Director Brenda Leigh has continually opposed the hike. As well, last summer an Area D resident, Robert Benoit, launched a legal petition against both the SRD and the City of Campbell River, which supplies bulk water to Area D, after last year’s increase. A B.C. Supreme Court judge dismissed most of his claims earlier this year.
As the board had planned, the rates for metered properties will be see residential go from $1.36 up to $1.56 per cubic meter plus a user fee going from $415 up to $480, and for non-residential from $1.45 up to $1.67 per cubic meter plus a user fee going from $450 up to $520. For those residences not on meters, which makes up the vast majority of connections in the area, the user fee will go from $800 up to $920. For non-residential customers not on meters, the user fee goes from $1,200 up to $1,380.
The staff report says the increases are required to balance the budget to provide the north part of the electoral area with potable water service. The south part of Area D gets water from a system that covers Oyster River and Black Creek.
At the latest SRD board meeting, Leigh again expressed opposition to the planned hikes, though a few other directors on the board also voted against the increase when it came time for adoption.
“I’ll be voting against all readings of this bylaw,” she said.
The issue has been discussed at length before, but there was next to no discussion at the recent meeting. At the previous meeting last month, when a motion came up for the rates and regulations bylaw to be brought back to the board, only Area A Director Gerald Whalley voted in opposition with Leigh. This time they were joined by Area C Director Jim Abram and Martin Davis, the mayor and SRD representative for Tahsis.