A rendering of the wastewater treatment plant, which is currently under construction at McLoughlin Point. (Contributed photo)

Saanich braces for higher sewer and water rates

Saanich residents will find out Monday whether their sewer bill could up go up by almost 11 per cent.

A recommendation before council calls for a preliminary hike of 10.7 per cent cent in sewer rates. If council confirms this rate following budget discussions next year, average homeowners will pay $497 for sewer in 2018, an increase largely linked to the current implementation of the regional wastewater treatment plan currently underway.

Local sewer charges include three components: a fixed component, a local Saanich component, and a regional component. While staff calls on council to maintain the fixed charge of $31, the regional component would increase $36 to $254. This increase would account for 75 per cent of the total increase of $48 per household, as currently proposed. Cost increases in local operations and infrastructure account for the rest.

Saanich residents have been bracing themselves for increases of this sort for some time, following last year’s approval of the $765 million wastewater treatment plant at McLoughlin Point, whose construction is now underway across parts of the region, including Saanich.

When completed, the $765-million federal, provincial and CRD-funded sewage treatment plant will provide seven municipalities in Greater Victoria with the region’s first tertiary wastewater treatment system.

Saanich’s 2017-2021 financial plan breathes this spirit.

“Sewer Utility expenditures during the next five years will be influenced by significantly increased CRD regional treatment system debt, and CRD regional treatment operating costs,” it reads.

Saanich home residents also face a two-per cent hike in water rates, with the average cost per household going from $451 to $459.

Valla Tinney said in a memo to council that both the sewer and water rates are preliminary. “If any significant changes have occurred requiring an adjustment to the preliminary budget, these would be communicated to [council] and any recommended adjustments to the utility rates would be considered,” she said. “It is rare that a mid-year rate adjustment is required.”

Earlier this fall, crews drilled holes in Saanich to test whether the local geology can accommodate the pipeline connecting the proposed treatment plant at Esquimalt’s McLoughlin Point with the future residual treatment facility at Saanich’s Hartland Landfill.

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