Lake Cowichan town council has said no to a request from a group of condo residents who called for further reductions in their utility bills.
A form letter sent to council by owners of six suites in The Wellington at 138 South Shore Rd. said the group — all seniors — feel their utility bills “should not equal that of families living in detached houses.”
It’s all about usage, the residents said.
“Ten of our 16 suites are occupied by only one senior person, four by two and two are only occupied seasonally. We have no grass or gardens to water and if we do wash our cars, that water is paid for on the combined strata bill and not from our individual suite assessments. Most of us only use the stand-up shower a few times a week, the dishwasher two or three times weekly and do approximately two loads of laundry a week.
“One person flushing a water saver toilet uses a lot less water and much less space in the sewer system than a family of four. One senior puts approximately one bag of garbage per week in the bin and possibly one large bag in the recycling bin every three or four weeks. The composting is catching on slowly.”
Despite their assertion, however, the group have at least part of the story wrong, according to Lake Cowichan CAO Joe Fernandez.
“We already do charge less for apartments and townhouses,” he said, pointing out that the annual utilities bill for the condo owners is $582.24 while single family dwellings pay $745.68.
Fernandez also said there are a lot of Lake Cowichan seniors who do not live in condos or apartments, preferring a single family home.
“Charging for use for garbage is not going to work,” he said.
Coun. Bob Day agreed, saying that services such as garbage collection “cost a certain amount of money to operate” and that it would be impossible for the town to continually conduct a census to find where seniors lived.
Coun. Tim McGonigle asked that the response from the town show the difference in the fees so it would be clear to the letter writers.
Fernandez said he would make sure that happened, adding, “we have to charge a basic charge; if we just base it on usage, someone else has to pay.”