The Creekside Apartments in Port Hardy will be getting some help on utility charges.
Greg Vance, owner of Creekside Apartments, requested relief for 75 per cent of its utility charges while the building is undergoing restoration from a fire that happened back in 2017.
A staff report from Chief Financial Officer Lynda Sowerby was presented to council on May 26. Sowerby’s report stated “The district provides both water and sewer services to most homes and businesses within the district’s boundaries” and that “The district has a specified water/sewer district; therefore, the owners of premises, whether occupied or vacant, to which a service connection has been made, shall be responsible for the payment of all water/sewer rates, whether water/sewer is used or not.”
The district has two bylaws regarding water/sewer rates, and neither bylaw has a term for fee reduction if a premise is destroyed, removed, vacated or uninhabitable, whether by choice or natural disaster.
Despite this, Sowerby added that “Some, but not all municipalities do provide relief of utility rates in certain situations. There are many variations of structuring the collection of utility fund revenues to ensure sufficient funds are in place to operate and maintain the service and adequately replace or expand the infrastructure when needed.”
Sowerby stated the district could either:
1) Deny the request;
2) Grant the request of 75 per cent reduction in fee retroactively twelve months, and onward for the lessor of a) until the building is granted an occupancy permit, or b) 3 months;
3) Grant a reduction of 75 per cent in fee from May 12, 2020 and onward for the lessor of a) until the building is granted an occupancy permit, or b) limited period (ie. 3 or 6 months); or
4) Other direction as given by Council.
After discussions that lasted over two different meetings, Coun. Fred Robertson made a motion at the June 23 meeting that Creekside Apartments be provided a 25 per cent reduction in utility fees for a six month period or until there is an occupancy permit issued, whichever occurs first beginning June 23, 2020.
Coun. Treena Smith seconded the motion and it was approved after a 5-2 vote (opposed: Coun. Pat Corbett-Labatt and Coun. John Tidbury).
When asked to comment, Robertson stated the percentage went back and forth with a few different options being discussed, but ultimately, “the consensus was that 75 per cent was too high but we’d do what we could to help, and that’s where it (25 per cent) ended up.”
Robertson added that council does understand there’s currently a shortage of rental accommodation in the community, and they are more than willing to work with others on the issue.