Property owners required to hook up to municipal water and sewer services, as per their connection notice from the District in 2018, will be given another extension to July 2022 due to COVID-19.
According to a report compiled by District staff last April, when the mail-out campaign started in 2018 there were 367 properties with outstanding connections.
Property owners were given two years to comply, but the compliance date has been extended on several occasions due to COVID-19. Owners will now have to comply by next July, unless they received an extension.
Property owners whose private system was installed after 2007, or who would have to spend more than $30,000 to connect, could be given a ten-year extension on a case-by-case basis. Those seeking an extension were required to provide two quotes from two separate contractors, but many have expressed frustration with the process, particularly because contractors are not compensated for quotes and many recognized that they would not be hired for the job, especially if the quote came in at more than $30,000.
As a result, last November District council agreed with a staff recommendation to hire a consultant at $5,000 to determine the cost of connection for each of the individual properties seeking an exemption. But an updated report compiled by District staff on April 21, 2021 noted that the contract for the consultant had come in significantly over the budgeted amount.
“The total award for this project was $61,958.00 (excluding HST) and will appear as an unfavourable variance as the project was originally budgeted for $5,000 in the 2021 Rate Supported Operating Budget. The original budget was insufficient as the number of properties to be evaluated was underestimated in error,” it reads.
Of the original properties identified, some have already complied, some have been granted extensions, and some were deemed exempt—vacant lots and storage space, for example. The campaign generated 57 new billing accounts which, based on 2019 water and sewer rates, resulted in an additional $47,000 for the District that year, an amount that will vary annually depending on consumption.
As of April 14, 2021 there were still 213 properties that had not connected to water and/or sewer services.
It is still not clear how far the District will go to enforce mandatory connections but according to its amended bylaw, passed by District council on June 21, 2021, the municipality reserves the right to make the connection on behalf of the property owner at the owner’s expense. There are also specifications on how to decommission a well or septic. Those with private wells will have the ability to continue using them strictly for things like watering their gardens but will be required to ensure all plumbing is properly disconnected from the building.
See the amended mandatory connection bylaw here (pdf).