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SCRD drops some proposed fee hikes

SCRD drops some proposed fee hikes

Pender Harbour and Halfmoon Bay area directors held the line on wastewater service parcel fees for three systems as the board set 2021 sewer rates for rural area customers on Dec. 3. Those connected to Lily Lake and the Lee and Square Bay systems will see their parcel fees remain at 2020 levels.
For the Jolly Roger and Secret Cove systems, Halfmoon Bay Director Lori Pratt’s recommendation to increase parcel fees by $50 per year was approved by the board. Staff had recommended a $100 increase.
All other systems in the rural areas, except Canoe Road, will see their parcel fees increase in 2021 by the amounts recommended by SCRD staff. Those annual increases will add between $100 and $175 to the 2020 rates.
Leonard Lee, director for Pender Harbour/Egmont, asked that holding parcel fees at the 2020 rate for customers of the Sakinaw Ridge system be considered. In discussion, staff stated that this is the only area where parcel fees and user rates both fund system operations. It was noted that keeping parcel fees stable would mean that user fees for the eight properties connected would have to increase a disproportionate amount to cover operating costs. The board supported the staff’s recommended increase of $175 over current year parcel fees, bringing those to $845 in 2021 for that area.
Multiple board members commented that the SCRD needs to build “trust” in the community that these sewer systems are being responsibly managed. Several directors shared stories of being questioned by clients about system conditions, operations and the need for the SCRDs plans to upgrade and replace the aging sewer plants. The board asked staff to develop a communications and engagement plan to provide better information to the public on the systems as well as the current and future costs of maintaining these services.
2021 wastewater user fee increases for all SCRD systems were also approved at the meeting. Those increases range from $40 to $348 per year. 2021 user fees range from $349 in the Elphinstone area of Sunnyside to $1,663 in Pender’s Merrill Crescent neighbourhood. Those connected to the Sakinaw Ridge system will see the highest jump in user fees, with charges moving from $955 in 2020 to $1,304 next year.
In a correction to the report provided to the board and posted on the SCRD website, staff noted that the 2021 wastewater user rate for the Lily Lake system is to be set at $701, up from $640 in 2020. Connie Jordison

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