(Black Press Media Photo)

Hemlock Valley could see 600% increase for water fees

Hemlock Valley residents oppose the proposed change, calling the increase ‘outrageous’ and unfair

People with homes in Hemlock Valley could be paying 600 per cent more for their water, if the proposed increase from the Hemlock Valley Utilities goes through.

On June 21, residents received a notice from the utility saying the company had made an application to increase the rates for service beginning Aug. 1 of this year.

The rates would go from $49.82 a quarter for residential properties to $348.74 a quarter.

Mark Bulgin, who has owned a vacation condo on Enzian Way for the last six years, was shocked by the increase.

“It’s almost a breach of trust,” he said. “We’ve been good neighbours. We frequent the resort … It kind of makes you feel like you don’t want to go into the resort” when the owner proposes an increase like that.

SEE ALSO: Sasquatch resort expansion to see revenue-sharing between province, Sts’ailes

Bulgin and other members of the strata council in his building got together to begin discussing what could be done about the increase. Residents had until July 26 to submit their comments to the comptroller in charge of reviewing the increase.

“Right away our strata council was like, ‘What the heck?’” he said. “‘We better start talking about this and we better get our ducks in a row.’”

Everyone on the strata council, as well as other residents in the condos and potentially others with cabins on the resort, sent in letters to the comptroller. Bulgin got in touch with MLA Laurie Throness, asking for his help in sharing their opposition.

“I can understand if you’re going from $30 to $50 every quarter … or even double,” Bulgin said about the increase. “And that would be an outrageous amount to double it. But I understand over the years, things get more expensive, everything’s gotten more expensive.”

“But to put it up (600) per cent?” he said. “I think that’s a little outrageous.”

According to resort owner Ralph Berezan, the proposed increase for water fees was to help pay for upgrades to the Hemlock water system.

The old system, which serves 230 customers in the Hemlock Valley, was installed between 1976 and 1980 to provide raw water to the community. In 2005, the community was put on a boil water advisory because of changes to drinking water standards.

SEE ALSO: Power outages causing problems for Morris Valley Road residents

A new water treatment facility, costing around $850,000, was constructed in 2015, and in 2016 the boil water advisory was taken off. (A recent boil advisory due to heavy rainfall was instated this June, and taken off in July.)

The plan, Berezan said, is to amortize the cost of the new treatment facility over 12 years, which is how the increase to the water fees was calculated. The original fees were implemented in 1994, and hadn’t increased since then.

Proposed increases will bring residential costs from $49.82 to $348.74 a quarter, day lodge costs from $2,616.50 to $5,233 a quarter, condo common space costs from $57.37 to $348.74 a quarter and low commercial costs from $57.37 to $149.46 a quarter.

In the minds of residents like Bulgin, the substantial increase to water fees seems to be a way for Berezan to fund a water treatment plant that could handle the new buildings proposed in the resort development plan. But Berezan said that wasn’t the case.

RELATED: Hemlock Resort plan gets green light

“I wish that was true,” Berezan said. Although the plan is to build hotels and other amenities in the resort, once they are put in “the water will have to be improved again.”

A letter from Berezan to the comptroller indicated that capital for future expansions would be addressed at a later date.

Although the increases were set to go in effect Aug. 1, both Berezan and the residents of Hemlock Valley are waiting for the comptroller’s decision on what will happen.

If the fees do increase, Bulgin isn’t sure he’ll stay.

“I would very much consider selling,” he said. “But, on that note, it’s going to make selling that much more difficult. Because now you’re paying more for water than you are for strata fees.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the homes subject to this potential fee increase are part of the Sasquatch Mountain Resort. Although the resort is in the Hemlock Valley, the homes are not within the resort area. This change has been made to the article, and we regret the error.



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

REAL ESTATE: Homesteading in the Cariboo a reality

Columnist Freddy Marks talks about why so many are looking to a ranch life when it comes to property

Chilliwack maternity ward gets bundle of new equipment

Breast pumps, small fridges for patient rooms and freezer for donor breast milk given to hospital

Liberal candidate Jati Sidhu backs out of four interview appointments with The News

Jati Sidhu, the Liberal incumbent in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon, said he was too busy to talk

Highway 1, crime and pipeline debated at Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon forum

Five candidates for the riding debated the issues Thursday in Abbotsford

Heated cross-riding clash at debate between NDP’s Nenn on stage, Conservative Fast in crowd

Candidates from different ridings show anger during Thursday’s all-candidates meeting in Abbotsford

VIDEO: Agassiz lights candles in memory of missing, murdered Indigenous women

The Sisters in Spirit vigil took place at the Agassiz United Church

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Vancouver Giants wrap up prairie road swing with a 4-2 win over Regina

Milos Roman paced the Langley-based Giants with two goals, goaltender David Tendeck made 34 saves

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Map on Elections Canada website sends Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters to landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

Man arrested in fatal stabbing at Surrey gas station

Victim pronounced deceased at the scene; RCMP cordon off area

Most Read