A photo of a Surrey condo’s water meter. The building was overcharged by the city for thousands of dollars. (Photo: Submitted)

Surrey condo overcharged $4,500 on water bill

Resident urges others to check their water meter against actual bill

A Surrey man’s jaw dropped when he opened his condo’s water bill this year.

It was a whopping $14,000.

“It was just shocking to me.”

The number seemed extremely high, so James Nicholson ventured down to the building’s basement to find out their actual water usage.

Nicholson discovered his 57-unit condo’s actual running grand total on the metre was 76,175 cubic metres. That was in late April.

The bill issued by the City of Surrey in February was for 79,086.

“That’s 2.9 million litres of water they were off,” he said. “We’re not talking a small percentage.”

It turns out they were overcharged more than $4,500 and the city has since corrected the error.

An April 21 email from the city says the bill was adjusted “as per the reread,” which Nicholson said is in reference to the picture he took of their meter.

“We had to do our own investigation to discover this area,” he noted. “Of concern is that they did not send anyone to our residence to read the meter and verify the readings when we raised our concerns. They ended up coming in late June or early July to read it for our most recent bill.”

But here’s the kicker — the strata paid the inflated bill one day late and were on the hook for a fine of nearly $460 on the correct amount as a result.

“We had to take out a loan to pay the $14,000 water bill,” Nicholson told the Surrey Now-Leader Thursday morning. “We just couldn’t afford that. If it was the proper amount to begin with we would’ve been able to pay that bill.

“Charging us a penalty because we didn’t pay their inaccurate amount?” he questioned. “And we paid the inaccurate only one day late.”

Nicholson said the strata called city hall repeatedly asking for the penalty to be waived, and were shot down every time.

“They say, ‘Nothing we can do, nothing we can do. We almost never refund any penalties.’”

After the Now-Leader inquired to the city about the penalty, it was revealed they had just decided to waive it.

“It’s been escalated to our management just as of yesterday,” Kam Grewal, Surrey’s manager of finance, told the Now-Leader Thursday afternoon. “It just came to my attention in the last couple of hours.”

The city will be “reversing the penalty,” he assured.

Grewal said the original meter error was made by a former contractor.

“I know there were some issues with the former contractor,” he noted.

Typically, the city will refer to the meters instead of estimating, said Grewal, but explained there are exceptions.

“Sometimes we will estimate if the weather’s bad or the contractor cannot read the meter,” he said. “Usually they are checked, as long as they’re accessible and visible and weather permitting.”

The decision to reverse the late charge was welcome news to Nicholson.

But Nicholson wonders if other buildings are being billed in the same way and urges everyone to “check their meters themselves and compare it to their bill.”

“How many other condos are just paying and not looking at their reading?”

He added: “It would’ve been great to just get an apology,” for the “grossly inaccurate bill.”

amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Just Posted

Saanich recognizes residents for their environmental efforts

Shelagh Levey won the Long-Term Achievement award for her leadership in environmental protection.

Sooke’s Ayre Manor celebrates two anniversaries

Senior housing complex started in 1968

Man pleads not guilty in 1987 slayings of Victoria couple

William Talbott of SeaTac was arraigned Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court

BC Supreme Court rules in favour of Victoria’s plastic bag ban

Court dismisses a challenge by the Canadian Plastic Bag Association

Officials worry of fire risk at homeless camp

Regina Park camp has grown to 77 tents

Homeless people living on ‘Surrey Strip’ move into modular housing

BC Housing says 160 homeless people are being moved into temporary Whalley suites from June 19 to 21

Humboldt survivors to attend NHL Awards

Players say it’s a blessing to be back together again

WEB POLL: Should illegal immigrants be separated from their children?

Should illegal immigrants be separated from their children?… Continue reading

Justice minister: marijuana still illegal for now

Driving under the influence of drugs has always been — and will remain — against the law

Crown recommends 150-years for Quebec mosque shooter

Crown lawyers say Alexandre Bissonnette deserves to receive the longest sentence in Canadian history

192 missing after ferry sinks in Indonesia

Drivers are searching a Indonesian lake after a ferry sank earlier this week

No clear plan yet on how to reunite parents with children

A lawyer has documented more than 300 cases of adults who have been separated from a child

Port of Prince Rupert names Shaun Stevenson as new CEO

Stevenson has worked for the port for 21 years as vice president of trade development

Senate officially passes Canada’s marijuana legalization bill

Bill C-45 now moves to royal assent, which is the final step in the legislative process

Most Read