Council isn’t opposed to extending municipal water to Gleneden residents, but is reluctant to let Salmon Arm taxpayers shoulder the cost.
According to city administrator Carl Bannister, it would cost about $3.85 million to extend water to 77 residences in a proposed local service area.
“As you can see, it’s about $50,000 per property,” Bannister explained at the July 11 council meeting. “There’s about 77 properties in this area, and depending on how a property owner chose to repay that, the annual repayment to the city could range anywhere up to $3,100.”
Bannister added there would be other costs involved for the recipients of the service, including water-user fees, water frontage taxes, water meters, public inspection fees, as well as a capital connection cost.
The request to extend municipal water to Gleneden came in the form of an informal petition (not valid under the Community Charter) from approximately 44 residents.
City staff provided three options for the water extension to occur, with the most favourable being a petition for a local service area.
“If council chooses, a letter would go out to all the property owners explaining this proposal and it’s then up to the property owners to submit letters of support back to the city,” said Bannister. “If at least 50 per cent of the parcels and 50 per cent of the assessed value collectively of the parcels were in favour of that, then council could go ahead and start this process and install the water system and bill the owners after that.”
Bannister noted the result of the petition process would not compel council to proceed with the project.
Mayor Marty Bootsma’s immediate reaction was that, at $50,000 a residence, this process would be contentious.
“Now that this report is public it might be wise to defer this item to the next meeting and see what kind of feedback we do get from the community,” said Bootsma.
Unwilling to see all Salmon Arm taxpayers have to foot the $3.8 million bill, Coun. Kevin Flynn suggested staff look at any grant possibilities that might be available, such as what the Columbia Shuswap Regional District has done in taking over private water systems (about 18 residences of the 77 are on a private water system).
“If we can get 77 more people with safe, clean properly treated water in our community, or 77 more homes, I think there’s a benefit overall to the community,” said Flynn. “I don’t think that’s a $3.8 million benefit. I’m not even sure it’s a $500,000. But I think there’s a value to make sure citizens have clean safe water.”
Concurring with Bootsma, council chose to defer the matter and see how the public might respond in the meantime.