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Letter: Stratas get bad deal from Kelowna for water
Water is a precious and limited resource. Kelowna City water is supposed to be a segregated utility, i.e.: users pay their own way and it is not a source of dollars for the city. City water charges are:
a) a water parcel tax of $50/year for some with the annual property tax,
b) there are 7 customer classes with 9 different meter rates and several non-meter rates;
c) customer classes have a 4-tiered increasing volume rates while for other classifications there are 5 flat rate volume rates;
d) water quality enhancement tax has 9 different rates;
e) flat rate by acreage for city parks and irrigation (no meters).
Confused yet? Hence the need for an American company to determine the water budget. In the water report prepared by The FCS Group (Redmond, Washington) it states:
- Parks and irrigation have a 106.39 per cent shortfall in their cost of water services. The 5-year plan is to achieve 50 per cent of the annual cost of service, but no less than 10 per cent annual increases. Agriculture customers have a 713 per cent shortfall in their cost of services.
City council in 2008 adopted a policy to achieve 50 per cent of the cost forparks and irrigation and 25 per cent of the costs of service for agriculture. It would appear that citizens who are customers of City of Kelowna water are subsidizing the parks department by 50 per cent.
I live in a strata. Bareland strata were initially within the Multi-family classification for water rates because they were considered equivalent to other multifamily complexes. The city is interested in only one meter per strata complex; but as the strata installed and owns the roads, the water lines, fire hydrants there is no expenses for the city tax payer. There are 16 bare land strata customers with 985 homes; in total they are 2.9 per cent of the water services in the City of Kelowna. So why the focus on strata water? The City bemoans the idea that we have only one meter, but that was the City’s choice; Shaw Cable, FortisBC gas and electricity have no problems with individual meters on every house. (PS: the table the American company displays in Appendix B page 28, for strata monthly bills is incorrect.)
City Water must think they made a mistake with strata water and now wish to even the score and City Council fails to read fully the 45 page report:
Kelowna Water says: “water hogs in strata complexes should feel some pressure from their neighbours this summer to quit their wasting ways….. you hear some stories from strata’s where some lawns are just like swamps.” The city gave our strata a plaque for Conserving Water… go figure.
Kelowna Water later writes “…some customer classes are not paying their full share for the amount of water they use. Bare-land stratas – particularly the ‘walled cities’…should be prepared for rate adjustments...”
I think there are people at City hall who don’t like strata complexes. City water makes all the rules and strata complexes continue to be in the penalty box! City water is a bonus for Parks and Agriculture. If water is so precious, having a fair and equal water rate would be cheaper for all.
The Challenge: What if our strata offers to sell all our water lines, fire hydrants and sewer lines to the City of Kelowna for $1. The City can then put in individual meters send individual monthly bills and treat us just like any other customer. Everything has been built and inspected according to the City building code…. A deal for sure!