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City to look at penalizing those who obstruct water meter installations

An amendment to the Bylaw Notice Enforcement bylaw has made it before council in order to establish provision for a penalty whereby a property owner obstructs access to the city for the installation of a water meter. — Photo: Creative Commons

New legislation is being considered by the city to penalize people who attempt to obstruct access for the purpose of installation of a water meter.

An amendment to the Bylaw Notice Enforcement bylaw has made it before council in order to establish provision for a penalty whereby a property owner obstructs access to the city for the installation of a water meter.

The project to bring water meters to a city that has been without metering since its inception has been ongoing for over one decade, and there is still much of the city left to bring under the meter umbrella.

After such a long period without a measured and managed water service there has been some resistance by Nelsonites to the project, explained city deputy corporate officer Gabriel Bouvet-Boisclair in his report to council on Monday night during the regular council business meeting.

“Amending the Bylaw Notice Enforcement bylaw to allow the city to assess a penalty to those that interfere with the installation of a water meter will serve as a deterrent to those that are creating difficulties for Public Works staff in installing the required water meters,” he said.

No negative impact has been identified, Bouvet-Boisclair added.

The city has been working to install water meters in all industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) facilities.

“A water meter is required in all ICI businesses serviced by the water utility as it accurately measures water consumption,” noted Bouvet-Boisclair.

Transitioning ICI facilities to a water meter system is aligned with the city’s Path to 2040 Sustainability Strategy.

“Providing the city with an enforcement mechanism to ensure that water meters are installed will help ensure the transition to water meters is smooth and efficient,” the report to council read.

Bouvet-Boisclair explained that the data collected by the installed water meters could be employed to detect leaks and encourage water conservation, which has seen over a 20 per cent reduction in the last five years.

That reduction is in part due to ongoing work on the city’s water delivery system. Per-capita usage is dropping in Nelson and there is a continued decline in thetotal overall water usage, as well as a drop in the average winter usage.

At present, the city is undergoing the third (final) phase of the ICI water meter installations.

Five years ago the city enacted legislation to empower the municipality with the right to install a water meter, noting that it had the right to “require that a property install a water meter in accordance with this bylaw” and in 2008 it was determined that the city reserved “the right to meter any water service at its sole discretion.”

Nine years ago the city brought forth legislation to penalize people who obstruct access to the city for inspecting, maintaining, repairing, replacing and reading the water meter. “However, there is no enforcement provision with regard to those that obstruct access to the city for installing a water meter,” Bouvet-Boisclair noted.

The penalty for obstructing would be set at $200 (with an early payment penalty of $150).

Water, sewer and garbage, oh my

City council has approved atwo per cent increase in water rates and a 1.5 per cent increase in sewer rates for the coming year and an increase of $5 to the flat fee for collection of recycling and garbage.

With major sewage treatment plant improvements required, the city is expected to keep the 2019 reallocation of rates between sewer and water utilities in place, wrote city chief financial officer Colin McClure in his report to council on Monday night.

“This is being done in order to build the sewer reserve in order to assist in funding the expected future significant capital upgrades while keeping both the utilities fees at inflationary increases going forward,” he said.

“As it is apparent that some major (sewage treatment plant) improvements are going to be required in the near future, council has kept the 2019 reallocation of rates between sewer and water utilities in place,” McClure wrote.