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Special meeting to set 2021 SCRD wastewater rates

Special meeting to set 2021 SCRD wastewater rates

At its Nov. 26 meeting, the SCRD board asked for additional time to consider next year’s fee increases for properties on its wastewater systems. Leading up to a special meeting on Dec. 3, area directors are to consult with their communities on frontage and user fee adjustments for sewage disposal.
Staff recommended that frontage fees increase in 2021 by between $100 and $200 for properties in SCRD wastewater collection areas. The only exception is for the ten properties on Pender Harbour’s Canoe Road system, whose frontage fees are recommended to remain at the 2020 rate. 2020 wastewater frontage fees in the SCRD range from $102 to $674 per year for each property in neighbourhoods with a wastewater
Increases have also been recommended to 2021 wastewater user fees. These fees are charged to properties that are connected to sewer systems in SCRD rural areas. The proposed annual increases range from $40 to $348. If endorsed, the increases will mean 2021 individual property user fees of between $350 and $1,663 for wastewater treatment services.
With nine of the 15 systems located in his jurisdiction, Area A Director Leonard Lee said that wastewater system charges have a “huge impact” on many of his constituents. If both user and frontage fee increases proposed for 2021 are endorsed, some residents of Area A will be paying close to $2,000 per year for this service.
Lee asked for the delay until Dec. 3 for a board decision on the new rates. He stated that impacted residents from his area were unhappy with the online consultation that the SCRD held to explain the proposed fee changes. While understanding the need for virtual meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lee feels that recording these events “scares off” some participants from attending and others from voicing their opinions.
He said that some residents do not understand why wastewater costs continue to increase and that the SCRD needs to improve on how it is communicating this information. He compared the single meetings that staff conducted with the neighbourhoods on proposed 2021 wastewater fees with the considerable efforts being invested in engagement on the Coast’s water systems. “For some, wastewater fees are a bigger hit than regional water, but the SCRD did not respond in the same way,”
said Lee.
Connie Jordison

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