Lake Country council decided to give the first three readings to a bylaw which will increase water rates in the district.
After much discussion, council decided to increase water consumption charges for its residential, multi-family residential, commercial, and seasonal irrigation customers from $0.60 dollars per cubic metre to $0.77 per cubic m, and increase agricultural water’s base rate from $100 to $120 per acre.
Lake Country currently has the cheapest water rates per acre, compared to other similar sized municipalities inclduing Oliver, Osoyoos, Summerland and Peachland.
Coun. Penny Gambell was hesitant on providing a significant water increase for farmers, as they have other costs such as labour that they have to deal with, she said.
Agricultural water rates are 76 per cent subsidized, but Gambell said farmers contribute to subsidizing food costs in Canada, so she believes rates should stay low for farmers.
Chief financial officer Tanya Garost warned council that there is a garbage increase coming in the next year as there has been a significant increase to landfill costs. Sewer operations and structure upgrades also are coming down the pipes.
“Understand it may overlap with changes the district is planning as well,” she said.
Coun. Jerremy Kozub said he supports a small increase. “If we don’t do it now we’ll have to do it later,” he said.
The largest use of water in the district is the agriculture sector at 57 per cent, residential use is 17 per cent, multi‐family 3 per cent, commercial 3 per cent, seasonal irrigation 2 per cent and unaccounted usage at 17 per cent, according to a report that was presented during a special budget meeting Thursday night.
The report also highlighted that the primary factor driving rate increases are increasing construction prices.
“(An) increase of water rates ensures adequate funding is received (for) daily water operation, capital improvements, and capital renewal projects,” the report said. “An in‐depth study was done by staff and a 2.2 per cent increase in costs for operation is required.”
Future water related projects include an Okanagan Lake UV treatment and pump which would cost $4 million, a water treatment plant which would cost $29 million, a filtration plant at $12 million and an Oyama interconnect would cost $12 million.