Castor council talks about increasing water bills

·3 min read

Castor town council discussed increasing water bills with the goal of helping their water department break even. The discussion was held during the Nov. 8 regular meeting of council.

The discussion began when Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Christopher Robblee gave the regular gas/water report.

The CAO stated the water balance was still high for September but there was some good news for councillors: the water loss in October was only 900 metres cubed, which was down “substantially” from the month before.

Robblee explained “water loss” refers to the price users pay at the tap above cost which the Town of Castor pays for its water supply. He noted the water department, as a whole, spends more money on its operation than it brings in and therefore can be seen as a service, as services sometimes run at a loss.

Mayor Richard Elhard asked why the water department has to run at a loss.

Robblee answered that in most municipalities the end users usually find it unpalatable to pay water rates that would allow the water department to break even.

At this point councillors discussed water service connections outside the municipal boundary and Robblee stated it was impossible for the town to charge some users a certain rate while charging other users a higher rate.

The discussion then moved to the possibility of the town no longer offering new water hook-ups outside the boundary.

Mayor Elhard asked council if they should consider raising the water rates.

During the discussion it was stated there is a gap between what Castor users pay now and the level rates should be to have the water department break even.

It was stated that if rates are raised with the intention of eventually having the water department break even, the rates should be slowly increased over time so the users don’t get a shock on their bills.

Robblee reminded councillors the previous council raised water rates in 2020. It was agreed that councillors will discuss raising water rates again at a future meeting.

While the water rates were causing concern, Robblee noted gas bills were doing well.

“Gas is very much an asset to the Town of Castor,” said the CAO. He added the town makes money on the gas bills and its expected gas rates will go up in 2022.

Councillors accepted the water/gas report as information.

Dog park

Councillors heard a presentation from Olds College student McKenzie Van Hienen on a proposed plan to add more amenities to Pals Park, which is located in the vicinity of the hospital.

Van Hienen noted the plan calls for a gazebo, trees, a dog park, benches, trash cans and signs with rules displayed. Trees could include flowering and fruit trees, among others.

She added that she investigated the rules that other communities have in place for dog parks before drafting these.

Lighting options were also included, with information still forthcoming from a company called SolarVision.

Robblee stated he worked with Van Hienen on a few drafts of the plan.

“It’s really a solid plan now,” said the CAO.

The CAO also pointed out some of the property in that vicinity doesn’t belong to the town but rather belongs to AHS and the school, and this new plan would only propose new amenities on town property.

It was noted the plan will be included in upcoming budget deliberations.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review

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