By MEL DOREY
As many people know, we had 22 canvassers go door to door to do a water petition in Saltair. The water system was mostly built in the late 50’s and early 60’s. It is in need of quite a bit of upgrading. Most petitions usually say that they are against something. Well this petition was saying to the CVRD that we want something. It said that we want to do $4.5 million in water upgrades over a period of 15 years and we are willing to raise our parcel taxes by $358 a year to do this work. It was a tough decision for many people because it is a considerable amount of lift to their taxes. But most realize that we need to have a good water system for a strong and healthy community. We also want to leave this community better than we found it.
We received 60 per cent endorsement from the petition process, which also represents more than 50 per cent of property value assessment. Therefore the process will proceed. Right now our legislative services department at the CVRD is verifying all the petitions for accuracy. Legal descriptions of each property must be matched with the legal owners. Then the CVRD will forward them to the Inspector of Municipalities at the Province for final approval which will allow the parcel tax to be raised. Should all the bylaws go through the Province smoothly (which we anticipate they will), we will have a big advantage to start our first project early in 2013. And another big advantage is that the CVRD designated us a grant of $145,000 from the Federal Gas Tax money that the CVRD gets annually. Each year we will apply for this money but probably not be successful each year. There is only so much to go around for all 35 systems in the CVRD.
We will be doing $300,000 to $400,000 worth of work each year for 15 years. A small amount of engineering design work will have to be done on each of these projects that will be tendered each year. The CVRD does have work crews but for the most part this is too much work for them as well as their regular duties. About 90 per cent of the work will be publicly tendered to contractors to be most efficient and get the most competitive prices.
The work will be divided into projects and decisions will have to be made as to the priority of each project. Health and safety will usually be at the forefront as a priority. But also areas that had a lot of water breaks and are costing us a lot to fix will also be a priority. Last year it cost us $90,000 to fix these breaks. We want to stop the bleeding of money out of our water budget. If we don’t spend the money fixing breaks then we can spend the money upgrading the system which speeds up the work. This year so far the breaks have slowed down a bit which is more comforting but over the last five years, the amount of wasted money has been increasing.