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West Kelowna neighbourhood facing tax hike to pay for new water treatment plant

Click to play video 'West Kelowna neighbourhood has 30 days to decide how to repay $23.5 million for new water treatment plant' West Kelowna neighbourhood has 30 days to decide how to repay $23.5 million for new water treatment plant

The City of West Kelowna is estimating its new Rose Valley water treatment plant will cost $75 million.

According to the city, $51.5 million has already been procured through government grants and reserve, leaving a balance of $23.5 million that will have to be borrowed.

That borrowed money, says the city, will fall upon residents in the Rose Valley service area.

Construction on the plant, at the end of Bartley Road, is already underway.

Click to play video 'A new water treatment plant gets urgent attention after a three-month-long water advisory in West Kelowna.' A new water treatment plant gets urgent attention after a three-month-long water advisory in West Kelowna.
A new water treatment plant gets urgent attention after a three-month-long water advisory in West Kelowna.

Building the much-needed water treatment plant is not in question – several water-quality advisories have been issued recently — but how to pay for it is.

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Or, more precisely, how are approximately 8,200 residents going to pay the $23.5 million needed to finish the water plant?

Currently, Rose Valley service area residents pay $116 a year for water.

“Over the next two years, we will be raising that by $34 more to a total of $150,” said city CAO Paul Gipps from the city.

After that two year period, when the city goes to borrow the $23.5 million.

Click to play video 'West Kelowna Water Quality Advisory continues' West Kelowna Water Quality Advisory continues
West Kelowna Water Quality Advisory continues

“We will reduce the water bill by a $150 and we will transfer that amount on to a separate parcel tax, which will come on their taxes and it will allow individuals to choose to defer their taxes or pay it,” Gipps explained.

That tax would last over 25 years, in terms of repayment, which is the city’s preferable option.

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But in order to obtain resident approval, the city is using a process known as a ‘council initiative counter petition.’

Click to play video 'Osoyoos facing huge expense to upgrade water treatment facilities' Osoyoos facing huge expense to upgrade water treatment facilities
Osoyoos facing huge expense to upgrade water treatment facilities

Starting next week, affected residents will receive a form in the mail. Basically, it’s a three-page public notice of intent.

The first page explains what the city is doing. The second page explains how the city proposes ratepayers should pay for the water treatment plant. The third page is for those who disagree with the method.

Those that disagree are asked to sign it and return it to the city before 4 p.m., on Oct. 2.

If you don’t disagree, the city says you don’t have to do anything at all.

Click to play video 'Peachland water treatment plant officially in the works' Peachland water treatment plant officially in the works
Peachland water treatment plant officially in the works

Should more than 50 per cent of people and more than 50 per cent of assessed properties disagree with the method of long-term repayment, the city says it would look at short term repayment options.

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