Local area service sanitary sewer proposal for Lower Arrow Heights

Council discussed a plan that would bring sanitary sewer pipes to the Lower Arrow Heights neighbourhood, but in order for the plan to go ahead, it will require more than half of the property owners in the area representing more than half of the assessed property value to agree to the service

A neighbourhood on Nichol Road that would be serviced as part of the sanitary sewage expansion. Image: Google Maps

Property owners of the lower Arrow Heights neighbourhood south of Airport Way will be asked if they want to connect to the city’s sewer system through a local area service plan.

At its Aug. 9 meeting, city council gave staff the go-ahead to prepare a “local area service” (LAS) proposal that would run sewer pipes through the neighbourhood, where residences are currently using septic systems.

An LAS is a specific legislative tool whereby residents can petition for inclusion in a specific municipal service, such as sewer or water. The process requires a threshold of properties to opt into the plan for it to go ahead.

A city report said it would require 50 per cent of the properties representing 50 per cent of the total value of the properties for the LAS to be successful and the project to proceed.

The property owners are then required to pay for the costs of the installation of the infrastructure.

The staff report prepared for the Aug. 9 council meeting said that the impetus for the project is new Williams Gate development across from Queen Victoria Hospital. “This project consisted of approximately 25 single family homes and a remainder parcel that has since been zoned for multi-family townhomes. For the developer to achieve the density proposed, the subdivision needed to be serviced by the City Sanitary system,” the staff report stated.

The staff report said that during the development of the new Williams Gate subdivision, staff got inquiries from neighbours interested in hooking into the sewage system, who then formed a petition.

The report said that 41 residents had signed a petition requesting the service.

Cost estimate

In discussion, Steve Black, Director of Infrastructure and Planning, said the cost of the project was approximately $5 million. During a short presentation, Black said connecting areas of the community on septic system to the sewage system is “part of long-term goals of the liquid waste management plan.”

The agenda document contained a link to a bylaw meant to show the estimated cost and cost per parcel, but it was hyperlinked to an incorrect document and during the meeting staff were unable to display the document. We’ll update this sentence with a link to the document if it becomes available in the coming days.

Early stages

After more detailed plans and proposals are created, a staff report said the city will send letters to the properties in the area and that an information meeting would be scheduled. The process would include detailing cost estimates for the plan, including breakdowns of cost and the formula for determining costs per properties, such as a calculation based on frontage.

The plan would require the creation of a borrowing bylaw, and those using the system would be required to pay the costs.

Ultimately, it will require more than half of the residential properties representing more than half of the assessed value to sign on for the project to proceed. If you live in the affected area, expect to see a letter with details, although the timeline wasn’t defined at the meeting.

Council discussion

During discussion, council mostly asked information questions about the proposal. Coun. Tim Palmer said interest from the residents was key. “If there is a strong indication that they want that, then that’s appropriate,” Palmer said.

Although there were some questions on topics like latecomer fees, the discussion and reports didn’t get into a high level of detail on costs under various scenarios, such as requirements to hook into the system or options and costs for those who would want to opt out for now. LAS rules and procedures are governed under provincial legislation and the details will be required once the proposal is finalized.

Watch the discussion of the proposed expansion here. The video is cued to the start of discussion, which lasts for about 15 minutes:

Aaron Orlando is a Revelstoke-based journalist who serves as creative director of revelstokemountaineer.com and Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine. He's been on the news beat in Revelstoke for the past 14 years, serving in senior editorial roles. If you have aaron@revelstokemountaineer.com or call/text him at 250-814-8710.