With Squamish’s new water rate, size does matter.
At Tuesday’s (Jan. 15) regular business meeting, the District of Squamish (DOS) council had difficultly deciding whether to implement a new water rate billing system. The new system maintains a flat rate for single-family houses, but combines a flat rate and a variable consumption charge based on the size of the water connection for other dwellings or businesses.
The problem with the new system is it doesn’t account for the actual amount of water used, Coun. Susan Chapelle said, noting it runs on the assumption that if there’s a bigger water connection, more water will automatically be consumed.
It’s not any more equitable than the current system, she said, noting the only fair way to charge people is to move to a water metering system.
Council then voted the proposal down — councillors Chapelle, Bryan Raiser, Ted Prior, Ron Sander and Patricia Heintzman voting against the measure. But the new system didn’t stay dead for long.
The system was created as an interim step, the district’s Chief Financial Officer Joanne Greenlees said. It’s meant to be in place by this year’s billing and wipe away the current burdensome process, she said.
Implementing a water metering system would take more than three years, she warned, adding it’s also quite expensive.
“The reason we have not moved forward as fast is because we have a lot of infrastructure to deal with,” Greenlees said.
District staff has prioritized fixing the municipality’s leaking pipes, before implementing water metering.
At the urging of staff, Mayor Rob Kirkham put the new water-rate system back on the table. The district receives “an incredible amount of complaints” regarding its current system, he said.
“I don’t think we should be prepared to continue that another year,” Kirkham said.
The second time around, the system passed unanimously. Council also adopted Heintzman’s motion to initiate district talks regarding water metering.
Council authorized up to $70,000 be spent clearing the navigational route in the Mamquam Blind Channel.
Greig Garland, district capital projects engineer, showed officials a video of him standing on a sandbar where charts indicated boats should travel.
“I am literally standing in the middle of the navigational channel,” he said, as his shadow flashed across the screen.
Officials hope to remove 4,000 cubic meters of gravel during a fisheries window in the last two weeks of this month. If the municipality is able to secure the required provincial permits, staff proposes to do the job using a clamshell and crane on a barge.
Squamish’s first DC fast-charging electric vehicle station will soon land outside city hall’s doors.
Council backed a recommendation to place the station on Second Avenue across from the hall. The charging station is a part of a provincewide pilot project backed by the provincial government and B.C. Hydro. After five years, the municipality can decide whether it wants to take over the station’s operation, or the station can simply be taken away.