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Alta Lake sewer extension moves ahead at long last

Bylaw comes on the heels of a formal petition process to affected homeowners
n-alta lake sewer 26.41
A diagram showing the affected properties.

A long-contemplated project to connect the last remaining homes in the valley to Whistler’s sewer system is moving forward after council gave a related bylaw its assent on April 6.

The project seeks to connect 33 homes on Alta Lake Road to the municipal sewer system at a total project cost of $3.6 million. 

At its April 6 meeting, council gave first three readings to a local area service bylaw required to finance the project.

The bylaw comes on the heels of a formal petition process to affected homeowners conducted from May to August 2019. 

As more than 50 per cent of the 33 parcels (representing more than 50 per cent of the total property value) supported the petition, it was issued a certificate of sufficiency.

“Although the cost of the public sewer portion of the project is being shared 50/50 with the parcel owners, the total costs of the project, including supply of the individual pump stations and road resurfacing, will result in an estimated final cost share of 25 per cent to the lot owners and 75 per cent to the municipality,” said acting utilities group manager Chris Wike in a presentation to council. 

The RMOW’s portion of the project cost—just under $2.7 million—will come from existing sewer capital reserves.

The owners’ portion of the costs (up to a maximum of $900,000) will be recovered via an addition to their parcel taxes over a period of 20 years.

“The municipality will amortize each parcel’s share of the cost over a 20-year period, at a rate to be determined by the RMOW,” Wike said, adding that the current rate is two per cent.

“All municipal works will extend services to the personal property line or the edge of the right of way.” 

While the RMOW will buy and supply residential pump stations to any parcels that need one, owners would then be responsible for installation, maintenance and future replacement, Wike said.

“Sewer works and services charges, if not already paid, and sewer connection fees will apply at the time of permit application for sewer connection.” 

“The municipality will relax the requirement to connect to the sewer from the standard 180 days after official notice to do so, to 18 months. This will provide a reasonable amount of time for the homeowners and their contractors to install and commission all the private pump stations and sewer service lines.”

Efforts to hook the last remaining homes in Whistler up to the sewer system date back to at least 2004, with the RMOW spending about $400,000 on its efforts to date (not including the new project budget).

Municipal staff has applied for seven government grants to pay for the project over the years, none of which were successful.

The Point Artist-Run Centre will also be connected to the sewer system as part of the project, at the RMOW’s expense.

Adding the properties to the sewer system aligns with the RMOW’s Official Community Plan and Liquid Waste Management Plan, and will “reduce potential environmental impacts on Alta Lake from aging sewer systems,” Wike said