Some North Westside residents are fuming over a significant hike in water rates.
The Regional District of Central Okanagan board has approved a 190 per cent fee increase for three community water utilities.
“Many residents on the North Westside are seniors or parents with young families who do not have the resources to pay these large increases,” said Diane Baldwin, North Westside Ratepayers Association president.
“The regional district has now effectively increased taxes substantially through water costs. Today, few are receiving increases in pay and with the cost of necessities increasing daily, we believe these rates are unconscionable.”
There will be a consumption based residential rate (35 cents per cubic metre for all water used in excess of 235 cubic metres during a three-month billing period) for the utilities for Killiney Beach, Westshore and Upper Fintry/Shalal Road/Valley of the Sun.
There will also be a user fee and an asset renewal fee.
For Westshore Estates, the user and asset fees will amount to $632 per property, while it will be $682 for Killiney Beach and $600 for Upper Fintry/Shalal Road/Valley of the Sun residents.
RDCO officials state the increases are necessary to build up reserves for future utility upgrades, but the ratepayers association questions that approach.
“We have met the plan for long-term conservation by installing water meters,” said Baldwin.
“We are aware consulting companies and RDCO staff want to become one of B.C.’s progress leaders in sustainable practices.”
The association also believes there should have been public consultation prior to the regional district proceeding with the higher rates.
“In February, we received a letter saying water rates were going to be adjusted and that there would be public meetings to discuss the issue in future,” said Baldwin.
“To date, we have not had any public meetings and are presently in the process of communicating to set up dates, albeit after the fact. Residents deserve some answers.”
RDCO will hold an open house on water rates April18 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Killiney Beach Community Hall.
“Information will also be available at each session regarding water conservation, water meters and recent grants for capital projects and infrastructure improvements,” said Bruce Smith, communications officer.