Subdivision residents demand cheaper water

Photo: A delegation with Area C Director Arthur Hadland (Right) and Airport Subdivision residents Geri Pearson and Deb Ffitch make a presentation to council on the higher water rates the subdivision pays over City residents./ Kimberley Molina

 

Residents of the Airport Subdivision are unhappy about the amount they pay for their water usage.

At a presentation made to the Fort St. John Committee of the Whole, Monday, Area C Director Arthur Hadland and two subdivision residents expressed concerns about the fact that the property owners of the subdivision pay approximately $5.56 per cubic meter for both water and sewer.

There are 56 properties within the airport subdivision which includes a mix of both commercial and residential owners.

Hadland says that Fair Share money should be considered to be used towards any water infrastructure costs.

However, Councillor Lori Ackerman says that money generally goes towards capital projects that the City pays for, such as the hospital. Ackerman added that when the city had originally created the water policy that it was taking into consideration conservation and sustainability.

Currently, City residents are being charged a flat rate of $45 for which they get 32 m3 per quarter. However, this amount is charged whether residents use any water or not.

Over the set amount, residents pay $0.75 per cubic meter as well as frontage fees. Frontage fees would not show up on one’s water bill but would appear on one’s property tax bill.

The residents and businesses of the Airport Subdivision do not pay a flat rate. Thus, if they do not use any water over a specific quarter, then they do not pay anything.

A report had been commissioned by the Peace River Regional District on behalf of Arthur Hadland and was completed by an independent third party. The report, called the “Fort St. John Water Rate Audit” found that the City is justified in charging the specific rates for rural water and sewer.

Council later passed a motion during their regular council meeting that city staff will look into collaborative options that might be available for the two jurisdictions to provide water to rural residents.

One option that was brought up by Councillor Dan Davies was having the Regional District contribute money so that the rate for the Subdivision residents could be decreased.

The current rate will remain the same until the next budget discussions since the amount had already been factored into the current budget.

Councillors did agree that the amount that is being charged to rural residents seems high and should be looked into further. However, they also discussed the possibility that the amount that is currently being charged may actually be the correct rate.

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