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Average user will pay $308/year for water

After a couple months, many in-depth discussions and seemingly endless charts and billing models, Parksville council has selected a new water rate structure.

At this Monday’s regular council meeting the sixth and seventh options were presented which level off some of the largest increases and charge $1.68 commercial flat rate per cubic metre (1,000 litres) of water used.

“Water is highly undervalued,” said Coun. Marc Lefebvre referencing the staff’s point that the average residential user would pay $308 a year for water under option six, while electricity and gas bills range from $600 to $1,200 and cable and Internet range from $600 to $2,000 a year.

“Somehow we lose sight of that when we get lost in the numbers,” Lefebvre added. “Whether we pay now or pay later, we’re going to have to pay more for water. Personally I’d rather pay more now because it will just cost more in the future.”

The city adopted a new tiered billing structure in 2010 to encourage conservation but when they proposed changes in September to address complaints, early attempts drew a lot of opposition with models suggesting some customers would see large cost increases while others would see decreases.

The Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce said some businesses would face 75 per cent increases.

Council reviewed a number of options, including no change except a 10 per cent increase for budget needs.

The options were complicated by council’s desire to begin equalizing the rates paid by residents and businesses (which currently pay less per cubic metre), as well as a push to build up a reserve for a provincially required water treatment facility and new Englishman River water intake.

omplaints, early attempts drew a lot of opposition with models suggesting some customers would see large cost increases while others would see decreases.

The Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce said some businesses would face 75 per cent increases.

Council reviewed a number of options, including no change except a 10 per cent increase for budget needs.

The options were complicated by council’s desire to begin equalizing the rates paid by residents and businesses (which currently pay less per cubic metre), as well as a push to build up a reserve for a provincially required water treatment facility and new Englishman River water intake.

Director of finance Lucky Butterworth suggested option six was probably the “fairest,” though he said there were a number of complicating factors.

The chamber of commerce preferred option six, which will equalize rates between commercial and residential customers over three years.

Council amended the suggested option adding a $32 per year fixed charge for the water treatment plant reserve.

After considerable discussion council agreed it was the best option they’d see so far and voted unanimously to put it into effect for the March 2013 billing cycle.

 

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