The Hagensborg Water District held a second consultative meeting, Thursday, March 30th. This meeting saw former Water District Trustee, Ken Dunsworth and rate payer Diane Skelly present several recommendations to the ratepayers on priorities moving forward.
Ken Dunsworth presented the meeting’s purpose as being a discussion regarding the fact that without direct access to government grants and funding, the HWD faces an unaffordable and unsustainable financial burden as required by current government legislation and policies, especially when combined with, aging and increasing infrastructure, maintenance and insurance costs.
He outlined for ratepayers how the HWD operates under the direction of Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) guidelines. In addition, HWD must also observe the new Minimum Training Standards Playbook pertaining to fire protection as passed by the provincial government in 2015.
In servicing 206 residential and 18 commercial properties, the HWD faces increasing operational costs with inflationary pressures that were not addressed since the late 1980s in terms of increases to ratepayers. From 1987 to 2015 commercial liability insurance rates increase 550 percent, fire phone rates increase 425 percent, fuel for heating the fire hall and for the fire truck has increased 400 percent, and fire fighting training under the new Playbook requirements will increase 825 percent.
Efforts to date to express these realities to the provincial government were presented to ratepayers along with an ask from rate payers to examine several recommendations and to rank them in order of urgency to give the board an indication of the direction ratepayers wish to take.
These recommendations in no particular order included: replacing the main water line, re-examining treatment options, investigating conversion to the CCRD and/or becoming an municipality, bringing an end to the POE project, a public review of the operational budget, including costs of maintenance, inflation, etc.) that establishes a baseline water toll, continue to press for access to funding and seek grants, or a moratorium and a planned reduction in the parcel tax until the government reaches a decision about allowing improvement districts to access grants as presented at the previous public meeting as presented by Scott Durward who is working on this issue with the BC Chamber of Commerce.
The entire presentation and a sheet asking rate payers to rank the priorities and send that information back to the board will be available as soon as possible on the Hagensborg Water District web site.
The last part of the discussion centered around the unfortunate news of the seriously ill health of the current CAO and the job posting currently out for an interim (possibly long-term) replacement and the need to postpone to the annual AGM by a month as a result. The Hagensborg Water District AGM will now take place May 25th at 7:00pm with the location to be announced.