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Pincher council reviews fee structure bylaw

Monday, 22 August 2022. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Pincher council reviews fee structure bylaw

Pincher council reviews fee structure bylaw
By Sean Oliver
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

With two weeks before Pincher Creek’s new water bylaws are set to come into force, town council and administration are working to update the fee structure bylaw to account for the changes to water utilities.

In particular, utility rates were removed from the water bylaws and added to the fee structure, as well as fines for contravening water regulations.

Since the fee structure was being adjusted to accommodate the water bylaws, administration decided to review all the rates within the bylaw and presented the recommended changes to council as Bylaw 1584 during the July 25 regular meeting.

Some of the fees connected to the water bylaws include fines for contravening water restrictions. The CAO determines what water restriction the town enters into based on the given situation.

Stage 1 restrictions involve voluntary water conservation and therefore carry no fines; Stage 2 restricts watering property to certain days and times and carries a $600 fine for contravention.

Stage 3 prohibits watering with sprinkler and irrigation systems (though watering new grass is permitted during early mornings and late evening) along with commercial car washes and filling of outdoor decorative features and swimming pools. Failure to comply will result in a $1,500 fine.

Stage 4 is the most severe restriction, imposed only when the town’s water supply reaches critically low levels. All watering and outdoor washing is prohibited and will come with a $3,000 fine for non-compliance.

Other water utility fees the proposed bylaw establishes are fines for releasing wastewater with substances above permissible limits ($3,000), unauthorized use of the storm drainage system ($500) and tampering with a water meter ($1,000).

The cost of calibrating a water meter will be increased from $50 to $200 to more accurately match actual calibration costs. Residents will not be charged if the meter is found to be outside a five per cent tolerance of accuracy.

Council was supportive of the proposed fees associated with the water bylaws but had some questions regarding other fees.

Coun. Mark Barber questioned the need to increase the rental of sports fields for teams from $22 to $25 a player, especially since the soccer and football fields did not receive the same attention in maintenance as the town baseball diamonds.

“I don’t think the football players and soccer players should be paying the same amount as the baseball players — but at the same time I don’t think any of our youth should be paying fees to rent their fields,” Barber said.

No representative from the recreation department was on hand to explain the increase, though administration will schedule a presentation from the department at a future council meeting.

Should any youth athletes in the community need help financially, grants are available through KidSport to help subsidize costs, and the town was looking to increase the amount available for applicants. 

Additionally, the town provides an application for kids to get their skating and swimming fees waived, which could be extended to other sports, said La Vonne Rideout, director of community services.

“I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t be able to do that on individual fees as well. There’s lots of different options to look at with that,” she said.

And though the bylaw would also increase certain fees for the arena and swimming pool — like minor hockey and figure skating going from $73 to $75 and youth drop-in swimming increasing from $4 to $5 — Coun. Sahra Nodge said such minor adjustments were appropriate.

“I do think there needs to be fees to help offset the costs because they’re ever increasing,” she said. “I think these are very modest fees for our recreation facilities, and I think it’s been in the philosophy of the town for a long time to try and keep them modest.”

Council passed first reading of the proposed fee structure bylaw. Second and third readings will occur during council's next meeting, which will be Monday, Aug. 22, 6 p.m. in council chambers.

The proposed changes to the fee structure can be reviewed in the July 25 online council agenda package at bit.ly/PC_July25.