LOCAL EDITORIAL: Water rates discourage meters in Comox

If the Town of Comox wants people to voluntarily sign on for a water meter, it has chosen a curious strategy.

If the Town of Comox wants people to voluntarily sign on for a water meter, it has chosen a curious strategy.

At last Wednesday’s committee of the whole meeting, council approved a recommendation for an incremental increase for 2014 in Comox sewer and garbage fees.

As Mayor Paul Ives explained, the Town shares a 30-year-old sewer system with Courtenay. Reserve funds are not there to cope with increased demand, especially on the sewer system, caused by growth outside the community.

Fleetingly mentioning the downside of growth, we return to the subject of Comox water rates, which was deferred at the COW meeting.

A staff report suggested no changes to flat-rate residential water fees, but recommended rates rise for metered customers.

Say, isn’t that the meter option that is voluntary to enter and impossible to leave?

That’s what Comox resident Natasha Baert-Hockin heard after she told council she was “quite shocked” by what she was charged after she went on a meter and restricted her use.

Baert-Hockin said it’s costing the same on a meter as someone on a flat rate using much more water.

She asked council to withdraw from the meter program, but was rebuffed.

Ives, who said he has a meter, too, noted there isn’t much incentive to sign up for a water meter.

That’s especially the case because you can’t get out once your meter is hooked up.

The lack of choice was a significant objection against a regional district plan for weekly rural garbage pickup and roadside recycling, but that’s an editorial for a different day.

Coun. Ken Grant, a water meter opponent, said the Comox program is not working. He suggested people who have meters should be able to opt out.

That would surely happen if Comox taxpayers continue to shell out more than their non-metred counterparts.

Get with it staff, and recommend an increase in the flat rate.



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