Resort Municipality of Whistler staff were able to cut the cost of a sewer system to Alta Lake residents by roughly half, but at least a few residents balked at the lower price point — $28,000 per lot, paid out over 20 years. A fee of $1,826 per year would be added to their property tax bills.
Paul Steyns, who owns two lots along the road, said the lower price is still too high.
“I think the price point is out of line with comparable (sewer) connections, Emerald Estates being the most recent one,” he said. “This is three times more than they paid.”
Steyns said he would be willing to pay a “significant” amount of money to hook up to the sewer line, but said $56,000 for two lots — one of which won’t require a sewer hookup — is beyond what’s reasonable.
Steyns would like the municipality to continue to seek federal or provincial infrastructure grant money to build the roughly one kilometre sewer line, despite being turned down five times in the past.
“This is the oldest area in the valley, it’s been there since 1914 when the rail line came through, and I think the Rainbow Park washroom facilities are reason enough for running the sewer line through,” he said.
Lot owner Rob Devine had similar concerns about the price.
“I still need more information, but right now I’m against the plan,” he said. “What I’d like to see most is if (the sewer line) goes along the road, then the Valley Trail needs to go on top of it. I also don’t think residents should foot that much of the bill.”
At the direction of council, staff researched several options for bringing sewage service to Alta Lake Road. The cheapest option, and the option recommended by staff, was to install the sewer line in a shallow ditch (four metres deep) under the roadway, bumping up scheduled repaving by a few years to cover that part of the costs.
The total cost of that option has been forecasted at $2.36 million. The municipality would assume the $312,000 in paving costs, and the owners and municipality would split the difference of $2,048,000, or $1,024,000 each. That works out to roughly $28,000 per lot.
An open house meeting was held on Tuesday (Nov. 26), inviting members of the public to see the options and provide their feedback. If there’s support, then the lot owners will be asked to vote. If 50 per cent of 37 lot owners, representing at least 50 per cent of the assessed value of all the properties, votes in support of the plan, then the municipality will go ahead.
There is a also cost to do nothing. According to staff estimates, the cost to owners for maintaining and emptying their septic systems over 20 years is close to $2 million, including depreciation of the infrastructure and replacement costs.
Alta Lake Road is the last remaining section of Whistler without sewer service. Emerald Estates completed its sewer hookup in 2004. The cost to homeowners in that neighbourhood was $600 per year over 10 years.
Municipal staff explained that the cost difference was the result of density — having homes on both sides of the road instantly cuts the price per unit in half, for example. As well, construction costs are expected to be higher for Alta Lake Road because of the amount of blasting that will likely be required to install even a shallow sewer line along the roadway.
For more information, or to submit feedback on the plan, email firstname.lastname@example.org.