50 per cent plus one of the parcel owner was required in order for the design and construction to go ahead. As that was not achieved, no further work will go forward at this time.
The estimated cost of the project would have been approximately $16,400 per property, if paid up front, for the infrastructure, lift station and lagoon. Each property would also have to pay an addition $12,000 – $15,000 to get their property hooked up to the system, not including annual operational and maintenance.
Property owner Lisa Plemel says she’s not surprised the proposal was rejected, as the cost would be so high.
“So many of us who have needed this service, have gone ahead and fixed it as much as we possibly could, and already replaced our sewer tanks, so to do it again, I could see where people would be really reluctant to put out that kind of money again,” she says.
Currently, Plemel and her neighbours have to truck in ship in their own water and truck out their sewer. What she’d rather see is the City of Fort St. John extend its service out past her place to Charlie Lake.
“If they have the facilities to take our sewer, and/or provide water anyway, and we’re already paying for it, I don’t understand why we can’t be incorporated.”
However, the City has a policy that it doesn’t provide service to areas outside the city boundary, with the exception of the North Peace Airport. City Manager Dianne Hunter says that policy is in place for a number of reasons, but mostly because it would be selling capacity that is needed by the city itself.
“We just don’t have a big enough system that we could provide everybody with water and sewer,” she argues, adding that 12 – 15 per cent is already used by the rural water station.
As an alternative, the area could also look into requesting the city extend its boundary to include their properties. Plemel believes many of her neighbours would be interested in that option, despite the additional costs they would have to pay as residents of Fort St. John.
“I think most people would definitely consider the trade-off as being a good thing, if they could get water and sewer in exchange for being part of the city.”
However, Hunter explains that even if the Grand Haven and Clairmont residents were brought into the city, the cost would still be the same.
“The same property owners would have to bear the same cost. You wouldn’t be asking the rest of the residents of Fort St. John to pay a portion of their costs.”
She does say that the only difference would be water, which the proposed sewer system didn’t include, as well as the fact that the cost to maintain the system would be borne by everybody using it. If the City were to service the area, it would put in a water line at the same time as the sewer line, “but it would still be at their cost; it wouldn’t be at other residents in our community’s cost,” maintains Hunter.
Property owners in the area will be notified by letter of the result of the petition, and for now, will continue to handle their own sewer services.
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