The City of Weyburn’s utilities department is seeking to raise the water and sewer rates for all users over the next three years, starting on May 1 with a 15-cent increase per cubic meter of water, city council heard on Monday evening.
City manager Mathew Warren explained that the city’s reserves for utilities are being depleted with the major projects in the last couple of years. As the water and sewer utility is solely paid for by the users and grants and not by taxes, the reserves need to be built up again with additional major projects being planned for.
The water rates are currently 95 cents per cubic meter, or $1.66 for rural customers, and with the increase on May 1, the new rate will be $1.10 per cubic meter and $1.93 for rural users. The sewer rate is currently $0.665 per cubic meter, and $1.16 for rural customers. As of May 1, the rate will be $0.77 per cubic meter and $1.35 for rural users.
The most recent major projects included the city’s new reservoir, pump station upgrades and watermain replacement on Mergens Street, along with new water meters for all residences, replacement of all remaining lead water lines, and watermain replacements on Government Road and Fifth Avenue SE.
In the planning for this year are repairs to the intakes at Nickle Lake, water treatment plant electrical control system and watermain replacement on First Avenue SE. Future watermain replacements include Allen Street, Coteau Avenue and Bison Avenue, water treatment plant cell lining, and a new plant 300.
For the sewer system, the construction of lift station 3 is set for this coming year, worth about $1 million.
The City is also looking at finding an alternate raw water source in the coming years, and there are different options being looked at.
“This is just cost recovery,” said Coun. Mel Van Betuw. “We operate very efficiently. To be able to take advantage of grants going forward, we have to make sure we have the funds in reserves.”
The reserves in 2017 were at $8,849,150, and up to this year, $6.2 million have been used, leaving the reserve level at $2.4 million right now.
“We can’t move forward with too many projects with only $2.4 million in reserves,” said Warren. “It’s a really good investment to make sure we improve that.”
The future rate increases will see the water rates increase to $1.20 per cubic meter, or $2.10 for rural users, on Jan. 1, 2021, and $1.30 per cubic meter ($2.28 for rural users) on Jan. 1, 2022.
The sewer rates will be $0.84 on Jan. 1, 2021, or $1.35 for rural users, and then $0.91 per cubic meter on Jan. 1, 2022, or $1.59 for rural users.
Coun. Jeff Richards noted that residents are doing well with water conservation, with water consumption down by about 300,000 litres a year.
• In other council business, the City of Weyburn’s director of leisure services, Andrew Crowe, gave an update on construction of the Weyburn Recreation and Culture Centre, which is ongoing alongside the new elementary school on Fifth Street.
Construction is about 45 per cent complete, up from 25 per cent when he last gave an update in October, and the project is within the budget and on track to be open by September of 2021 along with the new school.
Some of the upcoming projects to be done on the WRCC include concrete pours throughout the building, exterior metal to be installed, and preparation for installation of the artificial turf for the soccer field.
A number of projects were kept out of the contract for the WRCC, and are also coming up, said Crowe, including the design for the indoor play and climb structures, buying the board packages for the new outdoor rink, the purchase of spectator bleachers and installation, and sound and security systems.
“This is a big thing for the City of Weyburn. It’s not only for the citizens of Weyburn, but for the surrounding communities. It’s a very important thing we’re doing here,” said Coun. Dick Michel.
Among the features inside will be sports simulators, with up to 35 different sports for people from toddlers up to adults, and a second-level walking track around the perimeter of the playing area below.
Mayor Marcel Roy noted people have been asking him about how regular the cleaning of the play and climbing equipment will be.
Crowe said it will be a part of the daily regular maintenance of the facility.
• Jaylynn Haupstein from the youth council spoke, thanking the City for their help at the fundraiser family skate day at the outdoor rink on Family Day, attended by about 50 people.
“We wanted to thank everyone who helped make our family skating fundraiser a success,” she said, noting the youth council was able to raise about $340 which was donated to KidSport Weyburn, to help the youth in the community.
“You guys were tough as nails, as it was cold that day, and you stayed out there and barbecued hot dogs and served hot chocolate,” said Coun. Jeff Richards.