Big Lakes increasing water user fees

Richard Froese
For the Lakeside Leader

Water rates are going up in Big Lakes County in 2021.

County council has given the first two readings to the bylaw that will (if passed) raise user fees to $6.05 per cubic metre from the current $5.45. That’s just over an 11 per cent increase.

Council heard at its Dec. 9 meeting that the new rate will still be well below the full cost of providing the service, which is about $7.50.

The proposed increase will add $8 to $10 per month to the bill of the average user, CAO Jordan Panasiuk told council.

Reeve Ken Matthews said the fee should be even higher.

“People have to at least pay the cost of what they use,” he said. “We can’t afford to subsidize the costs.”

His colleagues Donald Bissell and David Marx agreed, however, as noted, the majority of council approved of the increase as proposed.

Matthews further stated that council should focus farther into the future to allocate funding to reserves that will be needed to upgrade infrastructure. It’s getting old, he noted and “I don’t know if a lot of grants will be available.”

Other rates rising
Under the same bylaw, the county proposes to raise the dog pound boarding fee to $30 from $25, and to add a $15 administration fee for fines collected on behalf of the Town of High Prairie for dogs captured in the town.

The fees harmonize with those stated in the inter-municipal collaboration framework (ICF) between the two municipalities, council heard.

Council also agreed to discuss the future of dust control on gravel roads. Proposed is an increase of fees to 100 per cent of the cost of materials for the first application, up from 75 per cent, and 75 per cent for the second application, up from 50 per cent.

Council plans to adopt the bylaw and further discuss dust control at its Jan. 13 meeting.

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