Property owners along Lequesne Avenue in Langford are still trying to come to terms with the sewage bill they’ll be facing in the near future and are struggling to get information on the subject.
“I’m not happy with it,” said Chuck Redman, who has lived on the road with his wife, Doreen, since May 1999. “We’re very fortunate, we can afford it.”
But Redman said some of his neighbours cannot. With some retired and others near retirement age, he added, it’s a big bill to be hit with and one that could be more than $13,000 without taking into account the thousands of dollars it will could cost for property owners to run a connection from their home to the street.
A six-unit townhome project, proposed by Keycorp Developments Ltd. for 2822 and 2824 Knotty Pine Rd., has triggered the need for a sewage line to be run from Jacklin Road, down Lequesne Avenue to the new development. Langford bylaws require property owners along a newly completed line to connect within a year of the line’s completion or by the end of 2019, whichever is the later date.
Redman said that during an information session on the development held a few months prior to the Nov. 7 public hearing on the rezoning application, he specifically asked what this new sewer hookup would cost him. He left the meeting with the impression that he and other Lequesne residents would only be responsible for the cost of running the connection from their homes to the street, and that the developer would pay to connect the five homes to the main sewer line.
Keycorp development manager Rohan Rupf said, “we did go through a very thorough public process explaining how it would work.” During a rezoning process that included a community meeting on Sept. 8, subsequent council meetings and the public hearing, Keycorp’s responsibilities for the new sewer line were carefully laid out, he said. “We’re basically putting the service in on behalf of West Shore Environmental. We have to put the money up up front.”
West Shore Environmental Services Inc. operates and maintains the City of Langford’s existing sewers plus any extensions of the sewage collection system, as well as handling all customer inquiries.
If Keycorp proceeds with the project, Rupf said, the company would simply create the ability for Lequesne properties to connect to the main line, but would not be responsible for paying the connection fee.
“We were all semi-happy when we thought we just had to pay to get it out there,” Redman said. But now, he noted, Lequesne residents are struggling to find information on the connection and ongoing service fees. “There’s something strange here,” he added.
Langford council addressed resident concerns regarding mandatory connection at several meetings in 2016. More information was also included in last year’s tax notices, but a number of residents appear to have missed that. City staff have since fielded numerous inquiries on the subject, prompting council to recently approve sending another letter on the subject to residents.
That notice is scheduled to go out in the next week or so to remind residents of the mandatory connection policies. It was delayed so information on the 2017 rate increases could also be included.
A number of one-time fees, outlined in the City’s sewage bylaw, include a sewer connection fee of $1,500 per inch of service pipe diameter, a sewer capital recovery fee of more than $9,700 for 2017 – a fee that is scheduled to go up to more than $10,000 by 2019 – and storage fee of $495.
In a previous meeting, council also asked that staff refer anyone with questions on sewer service or financing to West Shore Environmental. While Langford does not directly offer payment options for residents facing mandatory connection, the company has some financing available to property owners.
When asked about the connection process by the Gazette, a West Shore Environmental representative declined to comment and referred any questions about Langford’s sewage system back to the City.
“Personally, I don’t think we need any of this sewer system,” Redman said. As for his own septic system, he noted “we’ve had no troubles,” and added one of his neighbours has a relatively new septic field while another put in a new system not that long ago.