Black Pines water rates meeting

BLACK PINES — About 15 residents attended a meeting in the Whispering Pines community hall this week to hear details of changes to the rates and structure for water consumption in the Black Pines water system.

Black PinesTNRD environmental services director Peter Hughes, CAO Sukh Gill, utility services manager Arden Bolton and I were there for the regional district.

Peter reviewed the process of how the changes to the water rates bylaw were arrived at, explaining that an initial staff proposal was changed after I received community input. The rates as set aim at accomplishing the joint objective of encouraging water conservation and raising some additional revenue to meet increasing costs.

At the same time, a dramatic reduction in the threshold that’s allowed within the monthly toll cap was seen as being too much, too fast. The new rate structure, which takes effect July 1, will affect some high water users but most are expected not to feel any impact. The monthly toll won’t change but the threshold is split between winter and summer and the overage rates go up.

A general discussion of the system naturally followed, with some residents feeling the meeting should have been held sooner in order to give them earlier notice of the changes. I agree with that, though I did my best to inform the community before and after the changes were approved by the board.

I’m still adding to a community email list and hope more residents will add their addresses to it so I can continue to send out updates. However, I’ve also been discussing with staff the possibilities for including updates with utility bills, which is something that could likely apply to all the water systems. Newsletters are already occasionally included, but residents suggest they be more specific to their systems.

A couple of specific questions were asked with respect to comparing previous and current water use. One is, can individual homeowners find out how much water they used in 2014? The answer is yes. Anyone wanting information on that can contact Peter Hughes at or 250-377-7053.

Another question was whether it’s possible to provide water-system users with meter readings at the end of July. The answer to that one is also yes, and staff will arrange to do that.

Various other questions were asked, especially around domestic vs. agricultural use of the system.

Peter also updated the meeting on the application for senior-government grant money to assist with the cost of the water-intake project. That project, of course, failed to get the required number of petitions earlier this year but it could come back for consideration should the application be approved.

In answer to a question, I confirmed that the $150,000 in community benefit funding agreed to by the Trans Mountain pipeline project is dedicated to the Black Pines water intake.

This isn’t a comprehensive summary of the meeting as it went for about an hour and a half but I believe it covers the highlights. If anyone has any further questions don’t hesitate to call me, email me or reply here on the Area P Post via Comments.


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