The Pickett family were given five years to cover the $9,000-plus to hook up to the water main after media publicized the story of their well running dry. They blamed the city for the lack of water, but a consultant’s report maintained that deep nearby city wells had no effect on the family’s shallow one. But their hard-luck story – dad Chris was laid off from the oil industry, and five kids made money tight – still won over council, who gave them leeway on payment with the justification that access to water is necessary for public health and safety.
Payment plans will be offered only to owners of single-family residential properties who can demonstrate financial hardship. Applicants will need to be residents on their own property, have lived in Abbotsford for at least a year, and meet the Statistics Canada household low-income cutoff.
The plans are only available to break up the costs of “service connections” to an existing water or sewer main, and cannot be used to cover the much higher cost of extending a main to a property outside the service area. The cost to extend pipes from the property line to the residence will be covered by the owner.
Equal payments will be collected each July, along with property tax, for a maximum of five years.
Based on how many people within the water service area rely on private wells, the city estimates approximately 15 more property owners may apply for payment plans.
The majority of the cost for a service connection isn’t to immediately cover parts or labour.
Rather, it’s mostly to pay into a collective plan covering the cost and ongoing maintenance of the water system as a whole. Otherwise, existing water users would be subsidizing new users.
The standard cost for a service connection is between $8,000 and $14,000.