Municipality borrowing $1.4 million for utilities

If one of the community’s wells were to fail during the winter months, Sun Peaks would be unable to operate as normal. In trying to avoid a water shortage on July 17 Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) council approved borrowing $1.4 million for a reservoir project that will increase the amount of water available. It marks the largest amount SPMRM has borrowed to date.

The current groundwater treatment system is near capacity and it can take years to find and develop other sources.  But as the resort continues to see large amounts of growth, more properties are connecting to water and wastewater services.

To provide water SPMRM will work with Sun Peaks Resort LLP (SPR) to repurpose part of an existing snowmaking reservoir to add potable water and fire suppression water capabilities. In the future, when SPR builds another, larger snowmaking reservoir, SPMRM would take over the entire 115,000 cubic metres. The new water treatment plant will be constructed at the top of the platter lift and is expected to be complete by Dec. 15.

Two portable buildings will be placed near the current water treatment plant and can be moved and reused as water and wastewater utilities continue to be developed. Inside will contain equipment that will reduce the pressure from high pressure snow making lines before they reach a membrane filtration system that removes everything but water. After the membrane filtration UV lights will inactivate viruses and pathogens before chlorine is added.

$342,000 (35 per cent) of the price is dedicated as a contingency fund and won’t be spent unless the project is impacted by winter weather, requiring plows or other equipment to complete the job. That leaves $977,000 for the construction of the plant and $100,000 for an engineering allowance. A total of $1,077,000 is planned to be spent on the project.

Mayor Al Raine said in addition to this project the municipality is focused on other necessities for water and wastewater. Part of their plan was put in place last month when new construction connection fees were increased.

“There are major changes coming about due to the municipality’s purchase,” Raine said. “Prior to the municipality, SPUCL (Sun Peaks Utilities Co Ltd.,) was a part of SPR who was selling land to developers inclusive of capital costs involved in water and wastewater services. Now the municipality is responsible for expanding water and wastewater and the capital costs related to that expansion.

“Our goal is to recover from new developments the capital costs for utilities between the DCC (development cost charges) and a small portion in connection fees. Everybody who’s built to date has paid their portion. We have to collect those funds but through a different vehicle.”

Raine said it’s important every homeowner pay for their part and added there is around $20 million required in capital costs for water and wastewater in the future. The municipal takeover of the two services was important to access grant funds that aren’t available to private entities, but some will need to be paid by the community.

“I’d hope at least 50 per cent of that is paid by higher levels of government.”