Thomas Brook residents on the hook for sewer connection fees

City says it was an oversight, apologizes for error. Property owners will have until Dec. 31, 2019 to pay.

Part of an image that depicts Thomas Brook residents impacted by additional sewer connection fees. Photo: From city documents.

Thomas Brook property owners were shocked to discover they will each have to pay an additional $6,655 in connection fees to hook into the city of Revelstoke’s sewer and water system. Revelstoke city council and staff say the additional fees are a regrettable administrative error, but Thomas Brook residents will still have to bear the cost.

Thomas Brook residents voted in favour of being annexed into the city in 2016 in order to get much needed sewer and water upgrades.

“I think the decision whether or not to connect would have been different if they had known of this in advance,” Allan Chabot, chief administrative officer said during the Jan. 9 regular council meeting. “This is hard to stomach for anyone.”

Thomas Brook resident Al McInnes wrote in a letter to council that he would have voted differently had he been aware of the additional connection fee.

Revelstoke city council discussed the administrative error at its Jan. 9, 2018 meeting. Council voted in favour of allowing Thomas Brook residents until Dec. 31, 2019 to pay the additional fees at a cost of $300 per month.

A letter to council from several Thomas Brook residents dated Jan. 2, 2018 notes a concern over the additional costs being incurred.

“We understand that at times mistakes are made in the development process; however, we as a neighbourhood feel strongly that we should be exempt from this connection fee,” the letter states.

Director of engineering Mike Thomas said the connection fee is paid by any property owner connecting to the sanitary sewer system. The fee is charged in lieu of the development cost charge, which can only be applied when a development has more than $50,000 in value.

“A sanitary sewer system generally doesn’t meet that,” said Thomas.

Councillor Scott Duke said he felt residents of Thomas Brook need a direct apology, noting it was a clerical error made by city staff.

“This is where it needs to start … there is a history of this happening. When a new sewer service goes through there is a charge. It’s in the bylaws. It’s an omission not to have it in the initial documentation,”he said.