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Why some industrial properties in Sechelt haven't been paying sewer parcel taxes

Industrial properties on Sechelt Inlet Crescent are not technically part of the sewer service area, though that's starting to change.
A subdivision off of Sechelt Inlet Road and Sechelt Inlet Crescent asked to join the sewer service area; more industrial properties are expected to be incorporated in the new year.

An industrial subdivision in Sechelt has been added to the local sewer service area, years after it was physically connected to the system. 

None of the properties on Sechelt Inlet Crescent are part of the local sewage service area but they are connected to the system, staff conveyed to council at its regular meeting on Nov. 15

Staff said that the property owners in question currently pay a user fee but are not subject to parcel tax on sewer service – this would change if the properties were included in the service area.

In a followup interview, David Douglas, director of Financial Services confirmed that none of the industrial properties on Sechelt Inlet Crescent are currently in the local sewage service area, and therefore have not been paying the parcel tax. Douglas stated that early in the new year the district plans to address this and incorporate the remaining properties. 

At the meeting, council gave three readings of a bylaw to amend the sewer local service area to include 5980 Sechelt Inlet Road and 5512 Sechelt Inlet Crescent. In 2021, 5980 Sechelt Inlet Road was rezoned and subdivided into nine lots, with access through 5512 Sechelt Inlet Crescent. An application to create additional industrial lots is under way.

Mayor John Henderson asked why these properties do not have to pay parcel tax, to which staff did not have a direct answer, but said this issue came to light about two years ago and that it's something that goes through a long process before it can be incorporated into a specific sewer area. 

Coun. Dianne McLauchlan asked if there was a possibility the site would be rezoned into a residential area later in the future. “My concern is that it probably should stay unserviced so that we prevent this from happening and so that it stays as industrial use,” she said. 

The area is zoned as industrial within the Official Community Plan (OCP) and the applicant is eager to create usable and functional industrial properties that would benefit from sewer connection for the variety of uses in the general industrial zoning, staff responded.

They added that they do not anticipate any change to residential in the foreseeable future. 

“I think actually getting sewer service to our industrial properties is a great idea," said Coun. Alton Toth. “It makes it a lot easier for a brewery or a mechanic or somebody who might be doing something where relying on septic could result in contamination of the ground and groundwater to occur.”

Council passed three readings with Coun. McLauchlan opposed. 

Jordan Copp is the Coast Reporter’s civic and Indigenous affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.