Fort St. John City Council has passed two motions regarding water and sewer rates and garbage pickup at its Committee of the Whole meeting Monday.
Councillors unanimously approved a recommendation to keep current water and sewer rates unchanged for the upcoming year.
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Despite the fact that most residences across Fort St. John have water meters, there are approximately 80 households that have never had a water meter installed, says Don Demers, director of public works and utilities. Demers says residents had to let city workers access their homes and regardless of numerous attempts, the workers were unable to enter those 80 homes. Since the households without water meters cannot have their water measured directly, they are charged a flat rate of $150 per quarter.
Demers says that the average household was charged approximately $73 per quarter before the City switched over to measuring water consumption. Thus, the $150 per quarter charge is more than double what the average household had been paying before the water meters were installed.
Councillor Dan Davies put forward a motion that was later passed to have city staff conduct a study to see if there were any ways the City could ensure water meters are installed within those 80 households.
In addition to keeping water and sewer rates unchanged for the upcoming year, the City approved looking into implementing a block rate structure for water usage. That rate structure could be implemented in 2012. The block rate structure gives the City the ability to charge a certain rate for a certain amount of water used. If residents or businesses go over that amount, then they are charged at a higher rate until another ceiling amount is reached and the rate is further increased. City Manager Dianne Hunter says the top rates are really only for commercial and industrial businesses since those are the ones that use considerable amounts of water.
Furthermore, the City agreed to look into charging commercial and industrial businesses extra at the truck fill station. Victor Shopland, the City’s director of infrastructure and capital works says that businesses would have to prove that the water their trucks are collecting is used for drinking water only or else they could be charged at a higher rate.
Council also unanimously passed a motion to leave garbage collection and disposal rates the same for 2011. The current rate for garbage pickup and disposal for residential homes is $120 per year. Of that amount, $93 is charged for curb side collection and $27 is charged for disposal at the landfill. The City determined the current fees are adequate to cover all the associated costs for garbage pickup and removal from houses across Fort St. John.