The prospect of higher water rates has the North Westside’s director fuming.
The Regional District of Central Okanagan board has given first reading to proposed increases for basic fees and consumption rates for its six water utilities, including Killiney Beach, Westshore Estates and Upper Fintry, Shalal Road and Valley of the Sun.
“I’m very concerned and upset with how the community is being handled,” said director Wayne Carson. “I didn’t support the rate increases.”
Carson says RDCO is using asset renewal funds to cover utility operational losses despite residents being told that wouldn’t occur.
“I wasn’t informed at any time that they were doing this. There has been no operational information given to my community.”
Carson also objects to the entire board voting on water rates because the process has previously only involved the directors from the two electoral areas where the utilities are located.
For Killiney Beach, the proposed annual user fee could be $466, while it could be $550 for Westshore and $690 for the Upper Fintry, Shalal Road and Valley of the Sun utility.
Consumption fees could also increase.
“For the two oldest systems, Killiney and Westshore, it works out that an average water user will spend around $100 a month for water with the new fees,” said Bruce Smith, RDCO communications officer.
“It’s slightly less for Upper Fintry, Shalal and Valley of the Sun, which is a new water system, so has a lower asset management fee.”
Asset management fees remain unchanged — $657 annually for Killiney Beach, $582 for Westshore and $200 for Upper Fintry.
“The main reason for the new rates is to make them more equitable for people who use less water and so that high and extreme users pay more for their excess water use,” said Smith.
“It will also help to ensure these two fees fully fund the cost of operating each distinct water system. We’ve had several meetings with residents over the past four years to discuss water rates and the desire to fully fund operational costs from the user and consumption fees.”
Smith admits the asset management fund has been used to cover operational shortfalls.
“That has not been the intent of the asset management fee, which is in place to collect reserve funds for future infrastructure replacement in each water system,” he said.
Carson says North Westside residents are concerned about water rates.
“I have people calling me in tears. They are pulling out trees and gardens because they can’t afford to water them,” he said.
While further action on the rates bylaws have been postponed until Nov. 12, Carson expects the majority of the board will go along with staff.
“I assume I will be outvoted,” he said.