Colwood homeowners’ sewage cost numbers still rough: Hamilton

Mayor says lower figure still not equitable for taxpayers who aren’t on sewer system

Many homeowners would celebrate the possibility of seeing an annual tax dropped from an estimated $741 to $274 a year.

Both relate to Colwood homeowners’ estimated cost in 2030 for a sewage treatment system. The higher figure was floated some months ago by the Capital Regional District. It was for a system that would include a main plant at Rock Bay and a tertiary plant in Colwood.

The Colwood plant would only handle City flows and be paid for entirely by Colwood taxpayers. It would also have required the City to build in redundancies, such as a separate outfall.

The $274 number provided by the CRD is for a two-plant system that would include one facility at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt and another at Victoria’s Clover Point. For the time being, that plan puts Colwood back into a situation where it is sharing a proportionate cost of a regional system.

The updated number shifted the City’s taxpayers from the top of the heap among fellow municipal householders to the bottom.

With no treatment plant locations nailed down and the costs still a long way from being determined, this numbers game still isn’t playing out happily for Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton.

“I find these numbers frustrating at the very best of times,” she said. “We don’t have a site, we don’t have technology …”

Acknowledging that the $741 figure “scared the pants off me,” and many other city residents – especially those not hooked up to sewer lines – Hamilton said a more accurate figure under the original scenario would have been about $350. However, she and City engineering staff are still trying to figure out a way to make the cost of dealing with sewage more equitable for all Colwood taxpayers, including those who may never be on sewer.

Despite the lower number, Hamilton isn’t celebrating. She’d rather see the CRD put the shared cost of construction and operations of whatever sewage treatment system is put in place as a separate line item on people’s bills.

“If Oak Bay’s big number is to assist with (fixing) leaky pipes, let’s take that out of the picture. Then at least it’s transparent and again it feeds into the communication to the public that we’re out to find a solution.”

The new 2030 estimates, which are based on municipalities’ current and projected future sewage capacity, see Oak Bay homeowners paying the most at $624. That is followed by Victoria ($546), Esquimalt ($514), View Royal ($464), Langford ($447) and Saanich ($404).

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