Municipality looks to take over utilities

Photo Sarah Laval.

The success of two applications for grants from the Canada Clean Water and Wastewater Fund could push Sun Peaks’ municipality to take over utilities in the community.

Currently water and wastewater utilities are under the domain of Sun Peaks Utilities Co., a private company owned by Sun Peaks Resort LLP. Their private status means they are ineligible to receive the grants that total $4.522 million. However, if the municipality were to take over the assets and manage utilities for the community, they would be eligible to receive the funding.

The applications, submitted in November, are for a number of additions and upgrades including replacing a reservoir, adding back-up power to the main treatment plant, and upgrading areas of the plant.

Mayor Al Raine said the municipality will look at assuming control over utilities in the long-term whether or not the applications are successful for a number of reasons.
He said historically utilities are funded by municipal, provincial and federal government and that system is preferred. He added that this would help to lower costs over the long run after an initial purchase.

In addition Raine said the current set up in Sun Peaks results in the municipality paying more taxes than if it was publically owned.

Raine added that the municipality needs to create a strategy on development cost charges so new construction in the area pays for their infrastructure and tie-ins to existing systems.
To Raine the change is important to keep costs to property owners steady or decreasing, which he said is not possible with private ownership.

According to the application, many of the areas needing improvement are more than 20 to 40 years old and nearing the end of their usable life.

Rob Bremner, chief administrative officer for the municipality, said while the work is necessary to improve utilities in the area it’s not urgent and could be replaced later as funds become available.