Municipality moves to increase water rates

Photo Karla Alexander

As Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) grapples with increasing challenges supplying treated water to the community they have announced a change in the structure of charges for water.

While unprecedented growth and development in recent years has been a boon to the municipality it has created challenges with the water supply.

Previously water came only from ground aquifers, however the supply of water in the aquifers hasn’t been able to adequately meet the community’s demands. 

In a release from SPMRM they said 30,000 cubic metres of surface water was taken from a snowmaking reservoir to meet demand last year. The same system will be used to supplement water this winter while SPMRM secures funding for upgrades and additions. 

However surface water requires different, more complex treatment which is being completed in one surface water treatment plant and eventually another, expected to be ready sometime in 2021. 

With this in mind, water rates will be changed to reward those who conserve water and to be more costly to those who use more than a single family residence, hotel, condo or townhome should. 

Those who exceed the set amount will see additional charges for consumption in excess of their needs. 

SPMRM chief administrative officer Rob Bremner said the acceptable amount was set by taking the average water use of a number of homes with year-round residents. 

He added this way owners who use their homes part time should see little effect on their rates but those full time residents or commercial properties using excessive amounts will pay for it. 

While researching flows and current use SPMRM said they found some residences using disproportionate amounts of water. 

“High usage properties sometimes use more than 400 per cent more water than the average residence in a given month,” stated the release. “In hotel properties, we observe that two hotels of similar size, one with new efficient toilets and shower heads uses only 35 per cent of the supply going to a hotel that has older toilets and showerheads.” 

The bylaw allowing for the changes will be given three readings during the Jan. 21 council meeting and will be adopted at a special council meeting to allow it to be in effect by Feb. 1.

Online billing is also in the cards for Sun Peaks’ utility users. SPMRM expects to be able to bill residents online in April.