The District of Sechelt will give money back to some residents who have been paying into a sewer fund for years with little hope of ever being connected to the sewage system.
The West Sechelt Community Association raised the issue in 2013 and a report on the problem was brought forward to the March 12 committee of the whole meeting.
On March 12, council voted in favour of refunding up to $241,000 of back fees paid on more than 100 lots over the past 12 years.
The lots are located in West Sechelt past where the main connector sewage pipe ends around Mason Road.
A report from chief financial officer Victor Mema pointed out that the District has been imposing a levy of $115 per year on properties within various "sanitary sewer specified areas," since 2001 in order to help fund expansion of sewer services.
Some properties are within 10 metres of sewer infrastructure; however, the West Sechelt properties in question are more than 100 metres away. According to the District, the distance makes them very unlikely to see connection.
With that in mind, councillors voted unanimously in favour of refunding up to $241,000 to owners of the West Sechelt properties in question.
Council also voted to pull $100,000 from sewer reserves to update the "sewer functional plan," last visited in 2005.
The update will provide a comprehensive review of the funding model for the sewer system.
In total, up to $341,000 will be taken from sewer reserves to fund the rebate and sewer plan update, leaving about $3.25 million in sewer reserves, according to Mayor John Henderson.
During question period, one man asked if his property in West Porpoise Bay would be considered for a rebate because of the amount of rock in the area that makes it unlikely he'll see connection.
"I think what we've tried here is to start the process that has been an overhang for a long time of people paying with no realistic expectation. So where I'm coming from is I think the next phase is to zero in close," Henderson said.
"We've made a broad, sweeping kind of assessment that if you're within 100 metres of a collector pipe, it's realistic you'll get connection sometime. But there may be instances like yours where the geotechnical component of your property in that area makes it unfeasible, in which case I think we need to come back to that, and I think we will in the course of the year."
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