The District of Sicamous is taking a more forgiving approach to get residents hooked up to sewer.
Last week, council gave three readings to an amending bylaw to revise the district’s non-compliance fee for those who can, but have yet to hook up to municipal sewer.
District chief financial officer Kelly Bennett explained the bylaw amendment addresses the non-compliant fee introduced in May for the roughly 125 properties (now less than 100) that had yet to hook up to municipal sewer. The fee would have doubled annually, from $457, over a three-year period.
With the amendment, non-compliant property owners on the east side of Sicamous Narrows, whose connection deadline was Nov. 30, 2015, will pay $914 for the years 2017 and 2018, and $1,828 in 2019.
Non-compliant property owners on the west side of the narrows facing a Dec. 1 deadline will pay $457 in 2017, $914 in 2018 and 2019, and $1,828 in 2020.
In addition to the amendment, the district is in the process of establishing a financing system for those who can’t afford to connect to sewer. Town manager Evan Parliament emphasized this doesn’t mean the district will be “hooking them up to sewer free of charge.”
“That simply means that we’ll finance it for you,” said Parliament. “So we’re working with the local credit union and we’re working with our lawyer to create an agreement whereby the landowner, through the district, basically has the project financed over a set term. So we will provide the up-front costs, we will get you hooked up, and you as a property owner will pay so much a month for so many years. So that’s an option we’re offering.”
In addition, Parliament said those who have received a permit to build a house or an addition won’t have to hook up right away.
“We’re going to allow you to do your development and then you can hook up,” said Parliament.
Along with the passing of the non-compliance bylaw in May, staff was also looking at creating a hardship policy for those who couldn’t afford to connect. But Parliament said council looked at that, and found the definition of “hardship” to be subjective.
“So we’ve simply said we’re going to relax the doubling of the non-compliant fee, give people more opportunity to hook up and we’ll provide that financing option, which we’ll have details shortly as to what it will involve…,” said Parliament.