About 30 people attended two public open houses held Feb. 12 to discuss District of Clearwater’s five-year financial plan.
General mood at the open houses was friendly and positive, although those attending did ask many questions of the staff and town council members who were present.
Local resident Robert Beaudry asked what was happening with plans to extend the sewer system.
Chief administrative officer Leslie Groulx said the District has a seven-part plan, with the Dutch Lake area having the first priority. Money has been applied for but without success, so far.
A project to construct a septage handling facility next to the sewage lagoons is proceeding, however.
The facility will handle effluent that has been pumped from septic tanks in the area.
At present that effluent is being disposed of in pits at the former Clearwater landfill, but that practice is to end soon.
Thompson-Nicola Regional District will build the $1.4 million project, said councillor Jon Kreke, while District of Clearwater will operate it.
The septage treatment facility will be self-funded through user fees, said director of finance Sheila Thiessen.
Local resident John Downey asked if there would be a sani-dump with the septage facility.
Councillor Ken Kjenstad there were no plans for one, but that it could be considered.
Thiessen said they were considering increasing the user fees for sewer and water.
The sewer and water systems are self-funded, said Jon Kreke, but the reserves are not increasing fast enough.
Ken Kjenstad the District needs to be careful with user fees. If set too high, people just won’t use the service provided.
Goldie Krawec asked how much use is being made of the new columbarium at Clearwater’s cemetery.
Thiessen said there have been some urns containing people’s ashes put in the structure, but not a lot.
She noted that the municipality is updating its cemetery bylaw, which it inherited from the improvement district.
Kjenstad noted that there is a big cost associated with a burial, especially in winter.
Jon Kreke noted that the District is looking into drilling a new well, probably to be located near the one in Reg Small Park.
The existing well in Reg Small Park is the municipality’s primary source of water, he said. It was drilled 30 years ago and not properly installed at the time. Now it is nearing the end of its life.
Two major problems with the well are it fluctuates with the water level in the river, plus there is no backup power.
Cost of a new well would be about $2.5 million, which they hope of offset with grants.
Ken Kjenstad said the biggest reason for the proposed 9.5 per cent tax increase was the District’s taking over road maintenance last September.
“We’re using some money from surplus to lessen the increase, but we’ve got to leave some for a rainy day,” said Kjenstad.