Boil water advisories are a thing of the past now the new water treatment plant is up and running. (Gazette file)

Boil water advisories are a thing of the past now the new water treatment plant is up and running. (Gazette file)

Lake Cowichan council briefs: Water treatment plant a success, taxes going up

Water treatment success

According to the groundhogs, it’s going to be an early spring in Canada. It’ll be a welcome change from a winter in which we seem to have seen everything in terms of weather: wind, snow, rain, and, on occasion, just a little bit of sun. What residents around Cowichan Lake haven’t seen this winter, though, are the boil water advisories that had plagued the town for years after adverse weather.

In a Feb. 12 memo to Lake Cowichan Chief Administrative Office Joe Fernandez, Jas Sandhu, the superintendent of public works and engineering for the Town, said “all is operating as per design”.

According to Fernandez, the Town’s most recent boil water advisory was back in February 2020.

“It’s been working great since construction was complete but we did nit get into full treatment until August, I believe.

“The water quality has never better,” he said. “Now we also get to look at what the other issues are with the water.”

Fernandez said before they were only able to check turbidity and make sure there were no issues that would cause ill health to people.

“Now we can test for more things like aluminum and all sorts of things.”

CVRD tax hike coming

It was “a busy, busy time for the regional district,” said Lake Cowichan Councillor Tim McGonigle during the Feb. 23 regular Lake Cowichan town council meeting. “The final CVRD budget discussion was held Feb. 10 alongside a Corporate Services meeting. Part of the discussion was the tax insert that will be going into different areas of the regional district, and to how the increases will impact Cowichan taxpayers.”

The increase to Lake Cowichan is 2.56 per cent. That means, the total tax increase from the CVRD for the average Town of Lake Cowichan home in 2021 will be $16.37. The average home within the Town of Lake Cowichan in 2021 is valued at $376,095 making average 2021 taxes roughly $656.64. This does not mean this will be the final tax increase for the year, as the municipality also prepares a budget separate from the CVRD, with its own tax requirements, and tax is also collected for the school district and hospital.

“There was a mandate from the board to come back with a zero per cent increase this year,” McGonigle explained. “Unfortunately there were some increases that were not within the realm of control within the regional district — solid waste was one of them. The other was the regional parkland acquisition.”

Town tax increase 3% so far

Preliminary budget talks have Lake Cowichan council eyeing a budget increase of three per cent for 2021. That’s what the senior staff have recommended. There is still plenty of time to determine what items make the budget: what additions, and what removals will be made.

“Council has held two budget review meetings to review the 2021 budget as well as the Town’s five year financial plan. The well-thought-out 2021 draft budget that staff presented to council is sitting at a three per cent increase over 2020,” said Mayor Bob Day.

Council will meet again on Thursday, March 11 at 5:30 p.m to discuss finalizing the budget numbers.

“The budget, as it sits today, consists of a well balanced allocation of funds that will improve all aspects of the community,” Day said. “Staff has given consideration to infrastructure above and below the ground as well as enhancements to local parks and green spaces. It will now be up to council to decide where the final numbers sit before the final implication to tax payers can be estimated.”

The budget will tentatively be brought forward to the April council meeting.

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