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What is happening with utility payments in The Main?

The District of Squamish says there are 20 accounts still owing as of Jan. 6. Some residents previously complained they were being billed incorrectly.
The Main in Squamish.

Following an uproar from owners who say they were incorrectly billed for utilities, the District says there are still 20 accounts in The Main condo complex that owe payments as of Jan. 6.

Financial services will continue their efforts to collect on those accounts, located in the building at 37881 Cleveland Avenue, and will update council if more news develops.

That information was attached in a memo from municipal financial services to the agenda for council's meeting on Jan. 17.

It stated that as of Jan. 6,  76 accounts of the 96 affected units had been paid in full.

Previously, some residents of The Main complained they were being saddled with utility bills for services they did not use.

They said they are, at the earliest, the second owners of their units and that there were no outstanding debts on their housing when they checked before purchasing them.

However, in September last year, they received notices from the District stating they owed about $730 in utility payments. Numerous owners said that these charges should be billed either to their units' previous owners or the developer.

Representatives for the 18 residents who say they were being incorrectly billed went to Municipal Hall in December and asked council to waive the bills.

However, council voted 5-2 in favour of proceeding with billing, stating that under their municipal jurisdiction they could not waive the charges for only the 18 units affected. They have power to either charge the entire building or waive charges for the entire building, but they cannot waive specific units.

Therefore, they opted to proceed with billing the entire building.

Council also voted in favour of referring discussion about correcting billing errors to the meetings of either the Lower Mainland Local Government Association or Union of B.C. Municipalities. It's hoped they can advocate to the province for better powers or methods in dealing with taxation errors.

According to the staff memo brought forth on Tuesday, of the 20 unpaid accounts, 17 were the original owners who purchased the property directly from the developer, and three were the second or third owners of the property.

The memo also noted that the developer's legal representative has told the District that 11 units in the building contained sales agreements where the developer was responsible for collecting utilities and giving those payments to the District.

The report states that the developer has paid off those 11 accounts, which are considered among the 76 accounts that have paid in full.

***Jan. 19, 10:51 a.m.: Please note this story has been corrected to state the affected parties are either residents and owners, not tenants.

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