Letter to the Editor: Time for council to pay more than lip service to water conservation

In 2021, the quarterly base water charges for a single family dwelling in Peachland were hiked by 82% while the consumption fee per cubic metre for nearly everyone went up by 34%. While Mayor Fortin claims the new rates are comparable to other local Municipalities, I believe that there are issues with them.

The new water treatment plant is considerably more expensive to run and this is what was driving the need for the higher charges in 2021. However, because the increases only got implemented mid year, they had to be a lot higher to make up for the under charging in the first part of the year. I notice from my latest bill that the rates have not yet been reduced to reflect that, which means this year we will be over charged in the first half of the year. No doubt this will allow Mayor Fortin to take credit for significantly reducing water charges in advance of the elections in October.

There are two bigger issues, to my mind.

The first is the balance between the fixed base charge and the variable water consumption charge. Water conservation is a major and worsening issue and making the major part of the quarterly charges a fixed amount does little to encourage thrifty use of our limited water supplies. Last year’s increases made this imbalance worse. We need to reduce the fixed amount of $101 and increase the usage portion accordingly to make water conservation worthwhile.

The second relates to the fixed base charge. Currently, the base charge for each unit in a  MURB (duplex, triplex and other multi unit complexes) is less than two thirds that of a single family dwelling, and may be less than 25% for the larger complexes. This means owners of single family homes pay a disproportionate amount for water. This imbalance will only get worse as the dozens of apartments that are planned are built in Peachland. I am told by Council they have no intention of changing this anytime soon.

Perhaps it is time for council to pay more than just lip service to water conservation, and to make water charges more equitable for all Peachlanders?

Graham Smith, Peachland 

Written by Kristen Friesen

February 18, 2022

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