Refund sought over water expenses 

Former Pemberton laundromat owner wants reimbursement for several years of non-metered water

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The former owner of a Pemberton laundromat is seeking a refund of more than $10,000 on water bills covering more than three years to reflect the metered rate now being paid by the business's current owner.

Les Ecker, who operated Pemberton Suds until earlier this year, told Pemberton council at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 17 that he believes the reimbursement would reflect "equal and fair billing" because the new owner has been paying significantly less since installing a meter for the business.

Ecker had originally approached the village in 2009 with concerns about how a per-washing machine rate was reached for water billing at that time. Village officials responded to Ecker by informing him that Pemberton had successfully received a Towns for Tomorrow grant that would allow for the village to install meters and establish a metered rate in 2010.

However, it was later determined that installing meters at all businesses and residences would be too expensive. Instead, the grant was used to install zone meters around the village to monitor water usage.

A metered rate was still established and property owners were permitted to install a meter at their own expense, which the village would use to bill accordingly. Tuesday's staff report said Ecker was notified "on several occasions" by staff of this option, but that he chose not to pursue a meter installation.

Council referred Ecker's presentation to staff for further examination after Mayor Jordan Sturdy told him issuing a refund could set a precedent for others who chose not to install a meter.

"If you were successful in this... theoretically everybody could come to us with the same principle," said Sturdy. "I'm not sure how that request is going to be considered for council."

Current owner Dave Stephan made a similar presentation to council in May and has since installed a meter.

CIOF REQUESTS APPROVED

Council approved funding for three local groups who submitted applications for Community Initiative and Opportunity Fund (CIOF) money earlier this year, each of which will take advantage of the different available payout structures.

Representatives of Stewardship Pemberton, Tourism Pemberton and the Pemberton and District Chamber of Commerce each made pitches during a November Committee of the Whole session to receive a share of the CIOF, which was formerly known as the Economic Development Fund until earlier this year.

Stewardship Pemberton will receive seed funding for various projects and program development over the next three years, starting with $7,500 in 2014, $5,000 the following year and $3,333 in 2016.

The chamber's request for a long-term service agreement to operate the Visitor Information Centre on Highway 99 will see the organization supported with $4,000 annually for the next five years.

Tourism Pemberton, which recently achieved society status, will receive the maximum $7,500 for a one-time funding application, which is required for the pursuit of a matching funding grant from Tourism BC that would be put towards various tourism initiatives.

The commitment of all money will be reflected as part of the village's 2014 budget.

FRIENDSHIP TRAIL BRIDGE DESIGN TENDER AWARDED

The Village of Pemberton has selected Scouten & Associates Engineering Ltd. to come up with final designs for the long-awaited Friendship Trail bridge, council learned Tuesday.

The Prince George firm will develop plans for the pedestrian and equestrian crossing over the Lillooet River that will eventually help provide a non-motorized link between Pemberton and Mount Currie.

Chief administrative officer Daniel Sailland informed council that Scouten did not provide the cheapest design estimate, but it best fit the village's criteria for selecting a design firm.

Scouten will complete designs and cost estimates for both a standalone bridge at the North Arm crossing, and for an addition to the existing Highway 99 bridge.

Preliminary design work is expected to come back for the village to review in early 2014.

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