Council Matters - March 19, 2014

At the March 19 Council meeting, a local area service to provide municipal sewer to the Meadow Park subdivision was again the topic of discussion. In May 2012, a valid petition in favour of an extension of the South End sewer system to serve Meadow Park neighbourhood was received. That petition was based on an estimated projected cost of $420,278, which amounted to $12,008 per lot or $1,318 per lot annually financed over 15 years at 7%.

In February 2013, Council weighed the evidence of failing septic systems and unsuitable soils contained in a VIHA report, against the concerns of some neighbourhood residents who felt that their systems were working fine and that they should not be required to pay for and hook up to a municipal sewer system. Council decided that putting this neighbourhood on sewer was in the best interests of the community and passed a bylaw to allow the work to proceed. Unfortunately, when the project was put out to tender, the lowest approved bid came in 42% higher than the estimated projected cost, largely because of a higher than anticipated amount of rock to be removed for the deep gravity sewer system. That would have meant that each property would face a cost of $17,143 or $1,650 annually financed over 15 years. At that time Council chose not to proceed because of the higher cost and asked staff to look at alternatives. Council also considered a redesign based on a shallow gravity/pump system which would have reduced the costs to each property owner but this proposal was not supported by the property owners in the community.

This brings us to the staff report that was presented at Wednesday's meeting. It pointed out that there was still a valid bylaw in place and that it could only be rescinded if a new, valid petition was received that rejected installing the deep gravity sewer system which is re-estimated to cost each property owner $17,143 per lot or $1,480 annually financed over 15 years at 3.5% (reduced from original 7% to make project more affordable). Council has agreed that the affected properties will be given until May 30, 2014, to petition against the sewer service. If at least 50% of the properties, having at least 50% of the assessed value of all the affected properties, sign the petition,  Council will rescind the bylaw and turn the issue over to VIHA (now Island Health) to deal with failing septic systems in the area. On the other hand, if there is no valid petition to reject the bylaw, Council will proceed with construction of the sewer system as approved in the approved bylaw. If you are one of the affected parties, please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

Another noteworthy agenda item was the adoption of Bylaw 3531 that rezoned 3 acres on Ford Road to Public Use (PU) so that Council can construct a new RCMP detachment on the site.  It is expected that the Municipality will complete the purchase of the property by April 24, 2014, and will commence planning and design for a new RCMP in detachment that will replace the existing facility at 6060 Canada Avenue, North Cowichan.

As always, Council appreciates hearing from you. Feel free to email us on these or any other items.