This morning, council heard from Doug Ragan, resident at lot 19 at Mile 0 RV Park, who was speaking on behalf of himself and a couple of his neighbours who were also in attendance. Ragan said as a tenant of the trailer park, he has seen his water bill nearly double this year – after council implemented a new user-pay utility cost system – but does not reap any of the benefit from the frontage tax being eliminated on the property as he is not the property owner.
"I don't have a frontage tax, I just pay twice as much per year for my water, and who gets the credit for that?" he said. "The end user has been paying all the time. He (the landowner) raised our rates – my water bill is up another $100 a year, so you're getting me here and you're getting me there, and everybody else is getting a credit but I'm not."
He said residents of the trailer park were already paying a high rental cost, partly to cover the cost of infrastructure, adding another increase here of five per cent went into effect just last week.
"Raise his taxes, let him (the landowner) pay," he said. "If you're not getting enough tax from him, charge him more."
Councillor Cheryl Shuman said one of the reasons for the change in the rate structure was specifically to capture multi-dwelling properties like apartments and trailer parks, because the frontage tax being charged on those properties previously in no way covered the entire cost of infrastructure to service a mobile home park with nearly 100 units in it, for example.
"It was putting our utility at risk because we were not actually collecting enough money from the residents to keep up with the infrastructure and maintain it into the future," she said. "We were not collecting from everybody who was putting pressure on our utility."
She added the bill residents pay bi-monthly is not just for water infrastructure, but for sewer and municipal garbage pickup.
Mayor Mike Bernier agreed, adding the change was made on the best advice of engineers and consultants who were engaged to look at the fairness and sustainability of the former rate structure.
Shuman said Ragan should speak to the owner of the trailer park about realizing some of the cost savings from the elimination of the frontage tax on the property, but Ragan said the onus is on city council to solve the problem.
"The landowner didn't make this problem, you people did, and it's up to you to fix it."
Ragan said he plans to be at every city council meeting until the upcoming civic election to continue to press the issue.
Council has already heard earlier this year concerns from apartment building owners and representatives from the business community about the utility rate structure.