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Sewage treatment discussion divides Colwood council
Another year, another debate over how Colwood residents are to pay for sewage treatment costs.
With a new year’s budget comes yet another discussion over how Colwood residents will pay for costs associated with the Capital Regional District’s sewer treatment project.
Working off an estimate, the CRD is asking municipalities every year to pay a percentage of the money put aside for capital costs.
Last year Colwood had to pay 20 per cent of the total buy in, this year the charge will be 40 per cent, meaning all Colwood residents will pay about double this year.
Colwood city council approved paying for CRD sewage treatment facility costs in 2014 the same way as last year, with current sewer users paying for current use and everybody paying for capital costs for the in-development project.
Two councillors voted against the motion, however, with at least one declaring the approach unsustainable over the longterm.
Councillors Rob Martin and Sheri Lukens voted against the tax structure, with Martin expressing concerns about the burden the model would take on residents, and, ultimately, community growth.
“Why would someone buy a house for $500,000 and pay that amount of money to live in Royal Bay, when you can buy the exact same house in Westhills in Langford?” Martin said. “It’s not an issue right now, because the charges are just starting to ramp up, but as you begin to look towards 2018, we’re going to end up basically devastating the marketplace.”
The CRD’s estimated cost per household for Colwood in 2014 in $103, compared with Langford at $111 and View Royal at $80. By 2018 the cost to Colwood taxpayers is estimated to be $310 per year. The CRD explains these costs will vary depending on how individual municipalities choose to distribute the costs among residents.
Mayor Carol Hamilton sees the pay structure as the better of two evils.
“It doesn’t matter what model we undertake, it’s going to cost a considerable amount over time,” Hamilton said. “There’s arguments both sides of the fence. It is a real conundrum.”
Spreading the costs among all residents wouldn’t be fair to those not on sewer, which is the majority of the population, Hamilton said. The chosen model, she said, is more fair for residents who will not even have the chance to be on sewer in the foreseeable future.
Colwood is still looking at alternative sewer treatment options provided by the city itself to perhaps be the solution. A previous idea had Colwood partnering with Capital City Centre to provide treatment, but with the development now under creditor protection, other options will have to be looked at.
Hamilton said a forum on alternative treatment options will come to the West Shore on Jan. 28, with a location still to be decided.