West Kelowna water rates being hiked to pay for new plant, improvements

The moves being made will culminate in one water system for the entire city

West Kelowna water rates being hiked to pay for new plant, improvements

West Kelowna council has taken its first steps in increasing water rates for all city residents in anticipation of a new Rose Valley water treatment plant and upgrades to the existing Power’s Creek treatment plant

Earlier this week, council gave first three readings to bylaws that will lead the city’s desire for one water system, one water rate and one quality of water for all West Kelowna residents.

Lakeview, West Kelowna and Sunnyside system customers, who will benefit from the new $49 million Rose Valley water treatment plant—construction of which is to begin next year—will see increased rates to help cover the city’s portion of the new plant’s cost, as well as related capital infrastructure. The city received a $41 million grant from the federal and provincial governments for the project.

Powers Creek water treatment plant users, living in Glenrosa and Westbank, will see increased rates to help pay for capital works to that system to improve upland storage and fire protection.

The draft bylaws will also merge three of West Kelowna’s five existing water systems—Lakeview, West Kelowna Estates and Sunnyside—and rename the new system the Rose Valley water system. The Pritchard service area will be maintained as a separate area.

Council also gave three readings to a bylaw to name the Westbank system the Powers Creek water system.

All the systems will be re-named again as the West Kelowna water system once the Rose Valley treatment plant is up and running.

The water rates in West Kelowna will change for all customers in January.

Council approved the following elements to the water rate structure:

• Uniform rates will be phased in over the next four years

• Residential, industrial, commercial and institutional customers would be charged both a fixed component covering operation, capital and project debt) and a variable component, covering customer water consumption.

• A move to a single definition of “agricultural’ (BC Assessment – Class 9) and an agricultural rate structure consisting of both a flat per-hectare charge and a consumption charge (both effective Jan. 1, 2020)

• The elimination of five non-conforming commercial/institutional rates from the existing bylaw, effective Jan. 1, 2019

· The inclusion of a capital component to the city’s unimproved parcel water flat fee

· An update to bulk water rates

The city will now undertake a variety of communication efforts to inform the public of the changes to water rates.