The District of Sicamous is doubling fines over the next three years for those who are required to but have not hooked up to the municipal sewer system.
Currently, property owners who have not hooked up to sewer by the connection deadline, as specified in the district’s sewer rates and regulation bylaw, are made to pay the $457 flat rate for sewer. In a memo to council, district staff noted how this, as a non-compliant rate, does not encourage sewer connection. By doubling the non-compliant rate annually over the next three years ($914 in 2017, $1,828 in 2018 and $3,656 in 2019), the district hopes to see greater compliance.
“There are roughly 125 non-compliant rates at an equal value, at the flat rate of $457 per year,” explained district town manager Evan Parliament. “So again, we just don’t believe the figure is high enough. When you look at the economics, it’s probably just best to not comply and pay the $457. This again, is all about getting people to hook up and co-operate.”
In addition to the stick of a non-compliance rate hike, the district also plans to offer carrots in the form of a connection deadline extension for property owners on the west side of the channel, and the drafting of a hardship policy for circumstances where there is financial difficulty in connecting.
The connection extension for westside properties moves the deadline from June 1 to Dec. 1, 2016. Staff note there are about 20 connections still to be made, and that in some cases there :may be large financial impacts to some homeowners due to elevation.”
“The essence of the bylaw amendment is to focus on the environment and make sure that people do hook up at the prescribed deadline,” said Parliament. “We feel that by extending it another six months, it gives ample opportunity to not just put together a hardship policy, but to get the word out and educate that we need to hook up the outstanding accounts on the west side.”
The hardship policy will apply not just to the west side but to all of the district.
Parliament said the hope is that of the 125 properties currently non-compliant, the rate hike will bring about 70 per cent of them onboard. The majority of the balance may qualify under the hardship policy.
“Then we can look at ways to hook them up and then hopefully achieve 90 per cent,” said Parliament. “There’s always going to be one, two, five or six accounts that are going to be tough just because of geography, distance, etc.”
All of council was supportive of these bylaw amendments except Coun. Janna Simons.