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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR 2021 UTILITY BILLING

This page answers many common questions that Sunshine Coast residents have asked in the past about their utility bills.

This page will be updated based on other questions that may be asked and are not covered in the FAQ below. You can also visit the SCRD's Online Engagement Website at letstalk.scrd.ca/utility-billing-2021 to have your questions answered.

About the utility rates

Q. What are the utility rates for 2021?

The utility rates for 2021 can be found on this factsheet Utility Rates 2021. A more detailed breakdown can be found here on Utility Rates 2021 Breakdown.

Q: How are the rates set?

Utility Rates are reviewed annually and are adjusted to ensure that an effective level of service is available to Sunshine Coast residents. In addition, staff are constantly planning and implementing projects to better support the future needs of our communities.

By law, rates must be set prior to the year starting. The rates for January 1 to December 31, 2021, were set by the Board in December 2020.

Q: Why has my utility bill increased so much?

These increases are necessary to maintain the services provided by the SCRD. There are challenges that need to be addressed and infrastructure that needs to be upgraded to serve the community now and in the future. To meet these needs, the number of Utility projects being undertaken by staff has increased significantly in recent years.

Here is a message from the Chair of the SCRD explaining this year’s rate increase.

  • For Garbage and Food Waste Collection, rates have increased to reflect a full calendar year of food waste curbside collection service (green bin program).
  • For Water Services, rates have increased to maintain current levels of service while proactively working on projects for future water security.
  • For Wastewater Services, rates have been adjusted 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 compliance with environmental regulations. More information on future projects being considered for these wastewater systems can be found here: www.scrd.ca/wastewater-facilities

Q: How are people being notified of the rate increases for 2021?

The SCRD will continue to communicate these rate increases which were adopted by the SCRD Board in December through factsheets in local media, the SCRD’s Facebook Page and the monthly Coast Current newsletter. The Utility Bill for annual customers will be issued April 30. Rural property tax (excluding District of Sechelt, Town of Gibsons, and Sechelt Indian Government District) will be issued May 31.

Q: What is the money going to?

Here are examples of Utility projects from 2020 and 2021. For a detailed list of 2021 projects, visit the 2021 Budget page.

  • Increasing diversion from the landfill Residential Curbside Collection. Since the launch of the Green Bin, the SCRD’s curbside food waste collection program on Oct 6, 2020 to Dec 31, 2020, 162 tonnes of food waste was collected for composting instead of being landfilled.
  • Increasing water supply security. Work continues to secure groundwater sources for the Chapman and Eastbourne water systems. For the Chapman System, test wells were drilled in four additional sites. This means that now a total of eight well sites have been drilled over the past few years.
  • The Church Road wellfield is currently waiting for the Province to issue a water licence and this wellfield could be providing water to the community by early 2022.
  • Additional sources of water are being considered as part of the 2021 Budget and would bring enough water in the system to meet our needs until at least 2025 and potentially 2030 in a severe drought without going beyond Stage 2 water restrictions. More information on the SCRD’s water systems can be found here: www.scrd.ca/water
  • Continuing to meet standards of safe, clean drinking water. A new ultraviolet filtering unit has been installed in the North Pender Water Treatment Plant. This will provide an additional layer of treatment to drinking water sourced from Garden Bay Lake. Ultraviolet light is effective in water treatment because it helps take harmful bacteria from the water.
  • Replacing aging water infrastructure. In Bargain Harbour, a new upgraded waterline has been installed to make water service to the community more efficient. In addition, to increase public safety and fire protection in the area, a fire hydrant has been installed at the intersection of Chris and Mark Way.
  • Maintaining and upgrading wastewater infrastructure A number of projects have been completed on wastewater facilities to ensure more efficient operation of these systems. This has included the replacement of some of the anchors at the outfall on the Curran Road system, repairs to the collection system for the Square Bay system and also initiating the replacement of the sand-filter on the Woodcreek system.
  • Enhancing Customer Service Water meter data will be available to individual account holders through mySCRD sometime in the next several month. More information about this to come.
  • Maintaining aging water infrastructure. The safety of four SCRD dams which support daily water use, water system pressure, and fire protection, were assessed in 2020. Work will commence in 2021 to make some improvements to the dams.

Q. Why isn’t there a garbage coupon included in the utility bill?

At the July 30, 2020 SCRD Board meeting, the Board decided to discontinue the garbage coupon program. The 2020 coupon is valid as dated until May 2021. Discontinuing the coupon results in a 2021 budget savings of $35,000 and a 2022 (and onwards) budget savings of $68,000 for curbside collection services. These savings helps to offset the costs of collection service.

About your utility bill and billing cycle

Q. Who do I contact if I have a change of mailing address?

All property address information must be changed with BC Assessment and Land Titles.

Q: I recently bought a house, who is responsible for the utility charges?

Utilities are a charge against the property; any outstanding amount incurred by the previous owner stays outstanding against the property where the service was delivered. The notary/lawyer handling the sale should have adjusted for utilities on the Statement of Adjustments. Please check with them to see if a payment was made for the utility charges.

Q: I sold my house, what do I do with the utility bill?

We receive our property information from BC Assessment in the form of weekly uploads, therefore you are not required to inform us when the property changes hands. Please make sure your lawyer/notary is aware that you pay the SCRD for utilities as they will need to make an adjustment on the Statement of Adjustments to account for your portion of the charges. They can obtain this information directly from us by emailing utilitysearch@scrd.ca.

Q: I am building a new house within the SCRD or the District of Sechelt, when does the utility billing commence?

Water will commence the month following the installation of a water connection. The water user rate will be pro-rated. Most times water is used during the construction phase hence the water charge being applied right away. If applicable, garbage and wastewater service charges will commence the month following issuance of final occupancy.

Q. How often am I billed?

Residential utility customers will receive one utility bill per year, for the billing period of January 1 – December 31 of the current year. The invoice is issued at the end of April and is payable by 4:30 pm June 15th unless otherwise stated.

New construction may receive more than one bill in the first year for pro-rated services. The water charge will commence the month following the installation of a water connection. If the property is within the garbage collection service boundary and/or wastewater boundary the service charge will commence the month following issuance of final occupancy from the Building Department. Metered utility customers will receive a quarterly invoice.

Although most properties on the Sunshine Coast recently had water meters installed, there are only a small number of properties that are being billed based on their metered water consumption. These properties fall in the industrial, commercial or institutional classification. The quarters end March 31, June 30, September 30 and December 31.

Q: When can I expect to receive my utility bill?

Annual utility bills are mailed out at the end of April and are payable by 4:30 pm on June 15 (unless otherwise stated). If your property is on our metered billing system you will receive your bills on a quarterly basis. The quarters end March 31, June 30, September 30 and December 31. Invoices are typically issued by the 15th of the month following the end of the quarter (i.e. quarter ends March 31, invoice will be issued by April 15).

Q: What should I do if I don’t receive my annual utility bill?

If you haven’t received your annual utility bill by late May, please contact us at infrastructure@scrd.ca or 604-885-6806 and we will provide you with a copy. If you are a new owner, our records may not yet reflect the change of ownership and the utility bill may have been sent to the previous owner.

Q: Why do I receive a utility bill when there is a water charge on my property taxes?

There are two separate water charges, one in the form of a user fee, and the second showing up on the property tax notice (parcel tax / land charge). As a Regional District we are not able to include user fees on property taxes. The user fee (utility bill) is intended to cover operating costs associated with delivering water to your property while the parcel tax (land charge on property tax notice) is to offset the maintenance of the water lines and capital projects. The parcel tax is levied to all properties that have access to the service regardless of use.

Q: What is a user rate?

User rates are charged against properties that are connected to the SCRD water system or wastewater facility. The SCRD also provides curbside garbage collection services to residential properties within the service area. The user rate is set to offset the operating costs associated with providing the service. User rates apply to each separate residential unit. That means a home with a suite is considered two residential units. A property with more than one dwelling on the land, regardless of whether or not it is in use, will also be billed for each unit.

Q: Is it customary for the tenant or the owner to receive the utility bill?

The registered owner is always responsible for the charges therefore the SCRD only invoices the registered owner. However, if the registered owner has contracted out a property management firm we will make the exception if we receive notice in writing. If there are more than one registered owners only one will receive the invoice. Our system defaults to the first person listed on the Land Title. If there is a specific co-owner who should receive the invoice please inform us at infrastructure@scrd.ca or 604-885-6806.

Q: My house is vacant, why do I have to pay a utility fee if I am not using the service?

Although water meters were installed at many properties on the Sunshine Coast, the water service charge is still a flat rate amount in most cases, not based on usage. Under this current structure, the service charge is levied against the property regardless of whether or not the building is vacant for part of the year. If you will be away for an extended period of time (more than a year) and the dwelling will not be used during that period we can turn the water off which would result in inactivation of the water charge (there is a $50 fee for turning the water off). Unfortunately, garbage is a mandatory service, regardless of use, so the charge will remain.

Paying your utility bill

Q: How can I pay my annual utility bill?

The SCRD offers 5 ways to pay your utility bill:

  1. mySCRD Pay with Visa or MasterCard through our website at www.scrd.ca/myscrd.
  2. Online / Telephone Banking Offered through your financial institution.
  3. In person at most Canadian financial institutions.
  4. By Mail **Postmarks are not accepted as date of payment.
  5. After-hours Drop Box Located at the east entrance of the SCRD Administration Office or the front entrance of the Pender Harbour Satellite Office.

Payments received after 4:30 pm of the due date receive a 2% penalty per month outstanding.

Q: Can I pay my utility bill monthly?

Yes, you can make periodic installments on your utility account throughout the year. The frequency of the payments is up to you. To have the amount automatically come out of your bank account you must set up the payment online through your financial institution. The SCRD does not have the ability to set up pre-authorized payments for you. You will need to add the Sunshine Coast Regional District as a payee and include your 6 digit account number.

Q: What is the payee name for the SCRD on my online banking?

If you cannot find the payee based on the list below please contact your financial institution directly for assistance. Alternatively, you can search “Sunshine Coast” and search through the results to find us.

Q: What happens if I cannot pay my utility bill on time?

Balances that remain unpaid by 4:30 pm on the due date are subject to a 2% penalty. Subsequent penalties will be applied to the account for each month that it remains outstanding (applied on the close of business on the 15th of each month). Balances that remain outstanding as of December 31st are deemed to be taxes in arrears and will be transferred to your property tax account per Section 399.2(b) of the Local Government Act. Once this happens, the outstanding amount is no longer payable to the SCRD, payment must be made to your property tax account.

Q: What is the SCRD’s process for notifying property owners that they have an outstanding utility amount?

If a utility account remains unpaid as of the close of business on June 15th, a reminder notice will be generated and sent to the owner in late June. If the balance continues to be unpaid by mid-September a second, final reminder will be issued.

If the balance remains unpaid as of December 31st it is transferred to property taxes where the Surveyor issues a notice. A summary of the SCRD’s current collections policy is as follows:

1 Day After Due Date of June 15th Any outstanding Current Charge incurs a 2% penalty
30 Days After Due Date Any outstanding Current Charge incurs an additional 2% penalty
Greater than 30 Days After Due Date If the account continues to remain unpaid on the 16th of the following month, an additional 2% will be applied to the account for each month that it remains outstanding, until paid in full.
Year End (December 31) Balances that remain unpaid as of December 31 of the current year will be transferred to property taxes as per Local Government Act Section 399.2 (b).

Q: Why has this utility arrears amount been added to my property taxes?

Utility amounts unpaid as of December 31st are transferred to the respective property tax account for collection. Notice of this transfer is issued by the Surveyor or Municipality (in the case of District of Sechelt properties) shortly after the process has been processed (typically in February).

Property tax notices

Q: Does the SCRD issue property tax notices?

The SCRD does not issue property taxes and therefore does not collect property tax payments. Please refer to your Property Tax Notice for instructions on where and how the payment should be made.
In general, if your folio number begins with:

• 746 – Payments should be made to the Surveyor of Taxes via Service BC. There is an office located in Sechelt at 5498 Wharf Ave. Phone No: 604-885-5187. If you are outside of Sechelt please call 1-800-663-7867 to get the nearest Service BC location. Please note, some online banking systems may list this payee as “Province of BC – Rural Property Tax”.

• 570 – Payments should be made to the District of Sechelt, located at 5797 Cowrie St. Phone No: 604-885-1986.

• 524 – Payments should be made to the Town of Gibsons, located at 474 South Fletcher Rd. Phone No. 604-886-2274.