Sylvan Lake Town Council approved the first reading of a new bylaw, which will amend the previous water and sewer bylaw in place, during the latest regular meeting of council.
The new bylaw proposes water and wastewater rate increases for the 2018 budget.
Town administration has not proposed an increase in the water consumption rate, which will stay the same as in 2016.
Sylvan Lakers will see an increase in the flat water rate from $2 per month to $3 per month. This increase will help fund capitol projects in the Town’s 10-year plan.
Capitol projects are not solely funded through the flat rate. According to Dave Brand, director of public works for the Town, capitol projects are funded through flat rates, grant funding and other sources.
“It’s not like this increase will put the reserve into a huge positive balance. It is more to help maintain a positive balance in the reserve,” Brand said.
Brand continued by saying water is a “self-funded service” and the rates need to reflect that to keep it going.
Locals will also see an increase in the wastewater collection charges. Currently Sylvan Lake charges $1.20 per cubic meters, this will increase to $2.50 per cubic meter.
Originally, it was proposed the wastewater collection charges would be increased to $1.70 for 2018. This was initially decided during the budget deliberations for 2017-2019. However, the Sylvan Lake Regional Wastewater Commission (SLRWWC) proposed charging the Town a collection and treatment rate between $1.75 and $1.95 per cubic meter.
The charges from the SLRWWC must be included in the rate for Town users. This increased rate will accommodate:
operation of the existing internal wastewater collection network within the Town;
a maintenance and repairs of the existing internal wastewater collection network within the Town; and
treatment of wastewater and discharge of treated wastewater effluent in accordance with regulatory requirements until the regional wastewater system is fully operational,
“It is a significant increase, we understand, but there are things that we can’t control. This is one of them,” said Brand. “We had to increase to cover the charges expected from the commission.”
An increase to $2.50 per cubic meter for water water collection potentially sets the Town up to stay even when the regional wastewater pipeline is fully operational, which is expected to be in 2019.
Brand explained a customer using 20 cubic meter of water per month will see a monthly increase to their wastewater utility account of $31 per month, or $372 per year.
Betty Osmond, chief administrative officer for the Town, says the increase is “not good news” but recognizes the rate increases are not a simple issue.
“We want people to really understand…there are some things we have some control over, but there are these requirements… We are kind of along for the ride on this,” said Osmond.
The Nov. 14 meeting of Council was only the first reading of Bylaw 1744/2017. Council has approved to have a public hearing on the proposed bylaw on Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers.