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Frequently Asked Questions for 2020 Utility Billing

The answers below address most of the questions that you may have about your 2020 utility bill.

Let's Talk Water!

The SCRD Board of Directors and staff held an open conversation about water and your utility bill on May 25 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Check it out on our YouTube channel:

QUESTION: Why has my utility bill increased so much?

Depending what services you receive from the SCRD, your utility bill may have charges for water, wastewater, and/or garbage collection.

These are the reasons why:

Water rates have increased to support the delivery of new water projects that will expand our available supply of potable water during dry summer months. This work is costly. As part of the 2020 budget, over 45 new operational and capital projects were approved for water utility services.

We are developing new wells so we can access new sources of groundwater to increase our supply. We are also investigating options to develop and construct a reservoir which will capture and store water during the wet winter season for use in the dry summer months. Bringing these new developments online requires that we undertake extensive work to upgrade our aging infrastructure network so that we can safely deliver clean, treated water to your tap.

A status update on the most significant water supply expansion and conservation projects can be found here.

Wastewater rates have increased to ensure their operation can be sustained over time. A 2019 review of the SCRD’s 15 wastewater systems, showed that the fees previously collected to maintain and operate these systems did not provide sufficient revenue to cover their daily operation and maintenance costs. Funds also need to be set aside to save for major repairs and replacements and to ensure we are complying with environmental regulations.

Garbage (refuse) rates have increased to cover a new food waste curbside collection service. This new service is set to launch in the fall of 2020. Food waste accounts for a whopping 35% of household garbage found in the landfill. Diverting food from the landfill will help to extend the life of the landfill which at our current rate of disposal is scheduled to close in 2025.

QUESTION: The SCRD estimated annual water rates would increase 25%, so why has my bill for water increased more than 25%?

The increase in annual water rates is a combination of the increase in user fees (shown on your utility bill) and the increase to the annual parcel tax amount (shown on property taxes). User rates pay for the water service and parcel taxes pay for water infrastructure. In 2020 user rates went up 43% while parcel taxes were increased 5.3%. The combined annual rate for the increase is therefore 25% as shown in the 2019/2020 comparison example below:

QUESTION: can I pay MY UTILITY BILL in installments?

Yes you can, the options include:
• Pay in installments through MYSCRD via credit card
• Set up recurring payment with online banking
• Send post-dated cheques

QUESTION: Are there options to delay payment of my utility bill and what happens if I don’t pay my bill by the June 15 due date?

We ask for your patience as we are exploring options for those who cannot pay their bills on time. Currently, the June 15 due date for payment of utility bills is set in our bylaw so it cannot be legally waived without amending the bylaw. A 2% non-compounding interest per month is normally applied to amounts owing after 4:30 p.m. on June 15 and unpaid utility accounts as of December 31 are transferred your property tax account for collection as unpaid taxes (per S. 399.2(b) Local Government Act). Staff are working to bring forward options for relief of some of these penalties for 2020.

QUESTION: When is my 2020 garbage coupon valid?

In order to reduce risks to the public and staff due to COVID-19, we have been asking residents to avoid the landfill where possible at this time in order to follow the provincial health officer’s physical distancing recommendations. Therefore, your 2020 garbage coupon is valid from September 9, 2020 to May 2021. Pender Harbour coupons will be mailed in August 2020.