Castlegar water plan may mean utilities hike

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
November 18th, 2009

Water management is the issue on tap for the City of Castlegar, as they introduce Phase 2 of a comprehensive, 20-year, $66-million water management plan generated in cooperation with contractor Urban Systems….and may include utilities hikes for Castlegar residents.

Phase 1, adopted by council in February 2009, looked at everything from water sources and quality to infrastructure needs, now and 20 years into the future.

Phase 2, while less comprehensive, is the more daunting of the two documents – addressing how to pay the $66-million tab estimated in the Phase 1 report.
Urban Systems, in report to council Monday night, set out options and offered suggestions as to how the city can address the costs inherent in the plan.

“It (the report) is just breaking it down into how and when we should pay for (the capital expenditures we’ll need),” said councillor and chair of the Transportation and Civic Works committee Russ Hearne. “It’s all about how we can tackle this daunting task.”

Hearne said the Phase 2 report will be forwarded to budget and civic works committees for further evaluation and discussion, and will evolve over the course of months, years and even decades.

“It’s a living document,” he said. “It will have to change as priorities change – how we implement phase one and pay for it will depend on so many factors: the economy, water usage rates, infrastructure longevity.”

Through this process, the city has found much of its infrastructure in better condition than was accounted for in original estimates, which means less costs, while unanticipated break-downs may add to expenditures … the planning can’t be written in stone, he said.

“A lot of this has to be determined as we go along,” he said. “A plan spanning 20 years has to be fluid and dynamic, or it won’t be flexible enough to withstand unanticipated shifts in the status quo. Life happens…and a long-term report like this one has to allow for that.”

The one thing that remains certain, he added, is that the overall cost will be no drop in the bucket, and building reserves to ensure the city can maintain high-quality water services may mean an increase in utility costs for residents. Hearne added, though, that community members will get a chance to soak up any future plans and comment accordingly when the 2010 budget is brought forward for public debate.

Categories: General


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