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Parksville city council news: high water bills and electric car chargers

The City of Parksville has a new policy when it comes to residents and businesses asking for a break on a wildly inflated water bill caused by a leak.

Rascal Trucking asked council for relief after receiving a water bill of more than $3,600 in October of last year.

The company, which has 19 tenants on seven acres on Industrial Way, immediately checked its system after receiving the bill and located an underground leak.

The company paid about $1,250 of the bill (same amount it paid the previous year) and was asking council for a break on the rest of the bill.

All of this happened just prior to a new policy which empowers staff to deal with these matters instead of dragging them before council, which forced the issue to the agenda last week.

Rascal paid property taxes to the city of more than $14,400 in 2013 and were asking for relief for a second time in the past five years on a huge water bill due to a leak.

The city's old policy allowed for relief for one leak during a five-year period.

The new policy does the same, but also allows for partial relief on a second leak in the same five-year period.

It also allows staff to follow the policy without having to put these issues on council meeting agenda.

While there was much discussion about possibly checking water meters on a more frequent basis, a motion in front of council last Wednesday suggested treating this Rascal situation under the new policy. That motion passed, but not without some comments.

"Why should we be bearing the cost of it when it's the plaintiff's responsibility to look after his own water useage," said Coun. Bill Neufeld.

"I would caution council not to make a mountain out of a molehill," said Mayor Chris Burger. "We have already fixed this problem (with the new policy)."

In other city council news from Wednesday's meeting:

• Council received a report on the use of the city's three electric car chargers, which are currently offered free of charge for residents and tourists alike.

In the 13 months they were available from March 2013-March 2014, the two charging stations at the Parksville Civic and Technology Centre have experienced 336 sessions with a total connection time of 1,031 hours, using a total of 2,809 kilowatt/hours of power.

The charging station at Community Park only experienced 36 session totalling 62 hours in the same period.

Energy costs for the city to provide this service total about $350/year currently.

However, in 2018, the company that supplied the hardware and administers the useage will begin charging for this service, raising the total costs of the service to about $1,600/year.

Council simply received the report for information and some around the table suggested a future council will have to make a decision on the future of the service.

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