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It looks like the SCRD waste collection fee won't rise in 2022: SCRD briefs

The budget talks continue

As the last month of the year begins, there is one more scheduled board meeting for the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) before Round 1 discussions to set the budget for 2022 starts Dec. 13. 

Fee rate setting

One fee rate that may not rise in 2022 is the waste collection fee, although it will increase by five per cent in 2023. At the infrastructure meeting of Nov. 18, directors made a motion for a zero per cent increase for the service fee, expected to be adopted at the Dec. 9 board meeting. 

The rate adjustment is expected to be “well received by the community due to some service interruptions experienced this year,” chief financial officer Tina Perreault told the board. “To date, the SCRD has not received any compensation from the contractor. The proposed static rate for 2022 is due to additional revenues and cost savings, which are being passed on to the ratepayers.”

Previously, the 2021 refuse collection fee review set an increase of five per cent for 2022 and 3.5 per cent in 2023. The weekly curbside collection of food waste began in Oct. 2020, making 2021 the first full fiscal year with the new service. As the refuse collection for 2021 is projected to end with a surplus, staff recommended adjusting the rates for 2022 and 2023 downward.

After raising a concern about customer service, Roberts Creek director Andreas Tize said, “I think zero per cent is good in this regard, but the level of service that’s been delivered does not really deserve zero per cent. It deserves a decrease.”

Robyn Cooper, the SCRD’s manager of solid waste services, said Waste Management hired a new route manager after the former manager left in the late spring. She said the SCRD is anticipating improvements and noted good collaboration and communication during recent road closures 

“We are optimistic that we are at the end or approaching the end of service delivery interruptions based on staffing issues. Right now, we’re just managing service interruptions related to the road closures,” Cooper said.

When Elphinstone director Donna McMahon asked if there is a prospect of compensation from the contractor, Remko Rosenboom, the general manager of infrastructure services, said they are in discussions with the contractor and hopeful for a positive outcome.

Water rates

Directors also deliberated on water and wastewater rates at a Nov. 18 meeting but several took a stance against voting on increases. Sechelt director Alton Toth said he would vote against all water rate increases for 2022. By 2023, he said, the water meters will be installed and the water supply will be increased with new sources.

“We know that our infrastructure has been chronically underfunded, we know that we don’t have sufficient reserves, and we know that this is work that should have been started decades ago. We have a lot of catch-up to do, but we can’t just endlessly increase taxes on our community with nothing new to actually show for it,” Toth said. 

McMahon also voted against the recommendation to increase regional water service area user and metered use fees by 12.5 per cent and parcel taxes by five per cent but it passed with four directors in favour.

Halfmoon Bay director Lori Pratt said she was fundamentally opposed to any increases for wastewater treatment plants because the SCRD did not do public consultation promised to the community. She said while she was happy with the increases and rate structures, she is not happy with how the SCRD approached it.

During the upcoming Dec. 9 meetings, the emergency operations centre activated for response to flooding will also be giving a report, chief administrative officer Dean McKinley told directors at the Nov. 25 board meeting. The report will include costs incurred as the response and recovery efforts. Some of the costs for the response effort will be reimbursable through Emergency Management BC (EMBC) up to 100 per cent of eligible costs, he said. For costs incurred under the recovery effort, some will be eligible for a refund at 50 per cent.

Committee chairs appointed

New appointments for the SCRD’s standing committee chairs came into effect as of the Nov. 28 board meeting. The board chair appoints a chair and vice chair for each committee on an annual basis, and the latest round sees positions stay mostly the same.

During the meeting, board chair and Sechelt director Darnelda Siegers thanked the directors for taking on or continuing their roles. 

Siegers will continue as the chair of the corporate and administrative services committee, and Gibsons director Bill Beamish will take over from Roberts Creek’s Andreas Tize as the vice chair. 

For the community services committee – a new committee that has yet to meet – Tize will be the chair and Pender Harbour/Egmont director Leonard Lee will act as vice chair. 

The infrastructure services committee will be led by Elphinstone director Donna McMahon again as the chair, with West Howe Sound director Mark Hiltz staying on as the vice chair. 

Sechelt director Alton Toth is once again the chair for the planning and development committee, with Tize continuing as the vice chair.