With some planned work on the horizon, the Town of Comox is planning on rates hikes for water and sewer service.
Council gave bylaws for both utilities first, second and third readings at the March 18 meeting. They also moved ahead with a bylaw to increase marina rates at the same meeting, which was moved to d’Esterre Seniors Centre hall because of COVID-19 spacing regulations for meetings at the time. These bylaws still need to be adopted to go into effect.
Operating costs for the utilities are to be covered by user fees. As a staff report indicates, the biggest driver is the charges from the Comox Valley Regional District, which is the bulk water supplier, and the CVRD rates have seen a 3.75 per cent rise, going from $0.80 a cubic metre to $0.83 for 2020. Comox staff are recommending an equal increase to make up for the bulk cost increase.
The monthly flat rates would go from $32.25 per month up to $33.46. For use above than 500 cubic metres a year, the fee is to go up from $1.45 to $1.50 per cubic metre.
For residents on meters, their fee is to go from $15 a month up to $15.56. The rate also goes up for use above 14 cubic metres a month, from $1.12 per cubic metre to $1.16, as does the amount once use is beyond 500 cubic metres for the year – from $0.33 up to 0.34 a cubic metre.
Fees for commercial, industrial and institutional customers are also going up, with monthly fees increasing from $15 to $15.56 while fees for use above 14 cubic metres per month will go from $1.12 per cubic metre up to $1.16.
“I think on both of these issues – both water and sewer – I think people need to realize we have a major water project going on, and for those of you who haven’t seen what’s happening with our sewer, we’re looking at redoing the sewer through mainly the Town of Comox,” said Coun. Ken Grant. “It’s going to have a big impact on our users and on our downtown.”
He encouraged the public to look into the issues further on the CVRD website.
“If you wonder why we’re raising the rate, it’s because we have these issues,” he added. “They do need to be addressed.”
As far as sewer rates, the CVRD has increased its sewer service fee by 6.1 per cent, equal to $115,449 from 2019. Comox staff are recommending a six per cent increase for all customer classes.
The increase, the staff report says, should generate $136,680 for the Town to incorporate the CVRD increase and cover costs for day-to-day repairs and maintenance into the cost of running the system.