Mayor pleased with [sewer] connection estimates
by Robin Wark for the Sooke News Mirror September 17, 2003
After months of speculation, Sooke Mayor Janet Evans is happy she can now offer some actual estimates to concerned residents regarding the connection cost for the proposed community sewer system.
EPCOR Water Services Inc., Sooke's preferred partner in the project, recently presented estimates of 14 connection costs compiled by Chew Excavating Ltd. to the district. For residential gravity service (no pump required), the estimates range from $1,800 to $16,000 with six of the 10 being under $3,000.
"I am happy top see the average is around $2,500," said Evans, noting she felt the homes selected included both best case, average and worst case scenarios.
The proposed sewer project for the downtown core and areas such as Broom Hill is slated to be voted on by those living in the specified service area in a Dec. 13 referendum. The district has received a Canada-B.C. Infrastructure grant of $11.6 million for the $17.4 million project.
Lee Ward, EPCOR's operations manager, said at some homes connection options exist that could lower costs. For example, he said in some cases pipe could run down a driveway instead of through a yard that would require landscaping. He provided information to the district which said about $6,000 could be shaved off the $16,000 estimate.
A trio of estimates received for homes needing pumps because they are below the road range from $2,350 to $5,300. One estimate was done on a commercial property in the downtown core and it was $4,800.
"I think it is doable," Evans said of people who connect to the system. "They do have two to three years to save."
The estimates include the cost of burying pipe to run to the homes, pumping out a standard 750 gallon septic tank and filling it with sand and landscaping what has been dug up to run the pipe. If the grass at the homes was watered and looked after, Chew Excavating estimated costs with the idea of lifting and replacing sod. If the grass was dead topsoil and seed were planned for.
In cases where gravity systems weren't possible, there might be extra costs associated with installing pumps. These were not included in the estimates as they would likely require a plumber or electrician.
Day said the District of Sooke will be purchasing pumps for those who need them. He also noted for pumped service a plumbing permit is required but the district will not be charging for it.
While Chew Excavating made the estimates, Evans said homeowners are free to use whoever they wish. She hopes it will provide work for local contractors. Local contractors contacted by the News Mirror were unable to comment on the estimated costs before the paper's deadline.
Day said the district would encourage people to get together as a block and shop the project around to various contractors.
The administrator said financing options from local banks and credit unions will be available to homeowners. As of last Thursday letters stating options have been received from the local branches of Coast Capital Savings and CIBC. Other local banks are expected to submit letters as well, Day said.
Among the options included in the letters are adding the cost to the mortgage and amortizing it over the balance of the mortgage; a 10-year term loan at prime or a combination of the two; a personal line of credit in which repayment is based on three per cent of the outstanding balance or $60, which ever is greater; a personal loan with fixed or variable interest rates; and overdraft protection service.
In all cases, those borrowing must meet credit guidelines.
On top of the connection costs those in the specified service area will be paying up to an estimated $650 a year, which includes operating as well the capital cost of the project. Day said those located outside of the specified area will not be paying for it. It is expected homes in the specified area will have to connect, although council has yet to pass the bylaws that would make that happen.
The specified area is still being fine-tuned. However, it includes the area bordered by Drennan Street to the east, Maple Avenue South to the west, Helgesen Road to the north and the Sooke Harbour to the south. It is also likely some properties west of Maple Avenue South will be included.
George Butcher, spokesperson for Worried Residents Against Tax Hikes, could not be reached for comment on the estimates.