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Water Rates

posted Dec 8, 2013, 8:39 AM by Owen Plowman   [ updated Dec 24, 2013, 8:49 AM ]

Please read the two letters below for more information concerning water rate increases for Cates Hill.

Cove Bay Water System Advisory Committee

c/o Councillor Wolfgang Duntz (

October 16, 2013

Dear Councillor Duntz,

Re: Cove Bay Water System – Water Rates for Cates Hill Residents

 At a meeting of the Cates Hill Neighbourhood Association (CHNA), the issue of the rising water bills for Cates Hill residents was raised. Members of the CHNA are concerned about this and are seeking clarification on a number of issues.

Several questions were discussed at the meeting regarding the Cove Bay Water System, as outlined below. CHNA would appreciate a response to these questions.

  • Why have water costs for users of the Cove Bay Water System increased so dramatically in recent years?
  • How are decisions on such issues made?
  • Who makes these decisions?
  • What accountability do the decision-makers have to the community? 

In addition, it was discussed that better communication is needed to avoid surprising people, and to explain and justify why, if any, cost increases are being incurred. We would like to know what systems can be put in place to facilitate better communication with Cates Hill residents.

A timely response would be appreciated, in advance of the CHNA AGM on November 27, 2013 (date to be confirmed).


Jennifer Hall

President, CHNA


Keith Wahlstrom, Manager Development & Operations, Bowen Island Municipality,

Rod Marsh, President,  Bowen Island Chamber of Commerce,


29 November 2013

Hi Jennifer,

I am sorry for not having responded earlier. I thought that Keith Wahlstrom would provide you with an answer. That obviously did not happen and it may be because Keith has left the municipality and that has left a void which will take a while to fill.

I would strongly suggest that you or somebody else from from CHNA attends one of the next Cove Bay Water System meeting to raise your legitimate questions and to become familiar with the workings of Cove Bay Water System and Snug Cove Sewer System. In the meantime let me try to explain based on my own limited understanding of things.

The rate increases are not so much caused by an increase of cost for water but by an increase for sewer. The sewer rate increase reflects higher operational expense of the expanded sewer plant.

In general the setting of water and sewer rates are not of political nature, i.e. not made by Council, but legislated based on the "user pays" principle versus "taxpayer at large" to pay. Those rates are more or less the direct result of actual cost and prescribed provisions for reserves. Accountability is a matter of financial controls and based on accounting facts and figures which are administered by municipal staff, reviewed by advisory boards or committees and ultimately approved by Council as part of yearly municipal budgets. All very straight forward with very little room for discretionary decisions.
Both sewer and water system in Snug Cove are chronically short of volunteers to serve on their advisory boards and it would be wonderful if your request for information would trigger some interest 
among the neighbours to get involved.

Best regards