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Bowen water LAC roundup

See what the 8 water local advisory committees have planned for the upcoming year and beyond
Cove Bay water treatment plant in June
Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant in June 2021.

Bowen’s many water local advisory committees (LAC) are making plans for the years ahead as part of the current budget process.

All seven LAC met in the past month and submitted five-year plans to be included in the municipality’s 2022-2026 financial draft plan. Below are highlights from the meetings for each area. (Click on the LAC title for a link to agenda packages from these meetings, where you can find further details)*

Tunstall Bay

A new water reservoir tank is the big capital project on the horizon, with a price tag of $700,000. The money will be borrowed from the Municipal Finance Authority and be repaid over five years.

The project had sizeable opposition based on a number of concerns, and even found itself subject to a petition against to try and quash it. Ultimately though only 30 per cent (43 of 144) of owners in the LAC voted against the plan, signifying an overall show of support for the reservoir tank by residents.

Residents will pay back the borrowed funds through a new parcel tax over the next five years, at a rate of $853 for connected homes and $512 for unconnected ones. Starting in 2023, an additional user rate bump of five per cent a year will begin to allow enough reserve money to fund a $200,000 replacement of a pressure reducing valve chamber upgrade.  

Snug Cove 

Certainly the most talked about LAC island-wide in the last few months, Snug Cove is continuing with their plan to fund the $1.64 million upgrade to the Wastewater Treatment Plant through a combination of user fees and parcel taxes for local residents ($718,677, 44%), and payments assessed to taxpayers island-wide ($921,323, 56%). The latter point has been the focus of much contention this year for several reasons, including differing interpretations of the island-wide benefits of several projects in this local service area.

Snug Cove residents learned they’d be getting a little relief on their portion of the bill during a Special Council Meeting on May 2. While putting the parcel roll together more properties were discovered in Snug Cove than initially thought. The average parcel tax over the next seven years is now expected to drop from $664 to $593.

Eagle Cliff

Bowen’s most northern LAC has a series of major water supply upgrades coming in the years ahead, totalling $4.859 million. The projects will result in 110 Eagle Cliff properties joining the Cove Bay water system, along with a new reservoir tank for the area.

The municipality and LAC are hoping to obtain nearly $3.6 million, or ¾ of the total amount, through grant funding. While a 2021 application to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) was unsuccessful, staff say they’re more optimistic this time around due to more detailed plans and exploring a different grant stream through ICIP. The success of the grant proposal likely won’t be known until late this year or early next year.

For their own part, Eagle Cliff increased their annual revenue requirement from $66,000 to $80,000, though further discussions are necessary to decide on a rate structure to generate this extra money. Parcel taxes are going from $370 to $400 a year.

Cove Bay

The LAC budgeted $100,000 from 2023-2026 to account for capital costs related to the Water Treatment Plant, which remains offline nearly a year after it was supposed to be operational. There’s hope it will come online sometime this year.

The agenda for later this year includes a discussion on whether the LAC should shift its user rates to a consumption-based pricing model.

West Side Water Systems – King Edward Bay / Bowen Bay / Bluewater Park

This LAC trio has traditionally harmonized their rate structure, but those days may be coming to an end. There’s no official proposal yet, but a joint meeting will be held in the future with all three to discuss whether to explore different rates for each LAC.

For now, identical increases of around 10-13 per cent per year have been approved for the next five years. The rates for all three LAC this year are $960 for connected properties and $600 for unconnected.

Hood Point

Water will be a few bucks more for residents of this area, going from $415 to $420 for connected properties and $205 to $210 for unconnected. User fees are also rising slightly, from $800 to $840.

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