- District has given $10,000 to the seniors society to install water meter, a move that could save the latter as much as $13,500 every year.
- For the past five years, small 300 square foot units in the seniors housing were being charged the same utility and the garbage bill as a 3,000 square foot mansion.
By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: July 4, 2013
From her office on Third Ave, Laura Modray looks out of the window and sees a sprawling three-storey house, rising from the ground like an obelisk.
She looks through the open door and there is the modest, one-bedroom unit the Squamish Seniors Society rents out to deserving seniors.
Both homes are at several removes from each other, and yet, until this year, they had something in common.
They were billed the same rate for utilities.
“We were paying ten times more than the vast majority of people in Squamish to have water, sewer, and garbage removal,” Modray said.
That is set to change.
District has granted $10,000 to the society for the installments of water meters, a move that will save the society considerable money.
Modray estimates the society will save as much as $13,500 in one year alone.
The savings will allow the seniors society to fix roofs and windows on the building.
It will also save them the stress of worrying about utilities increases every year.
When she first joined as an administrator, Modray said she was shocked to see the 300 square foot units in the seniors housing were charged the same utility and the garbage bill as a 3,000 square foot mansion.
That was five years ago, and the seniors society has since repeatedly pressed upon the district to install a water meter or find another solution to the problem.
With the increase in utilities last year, the society has had to reluctantly increase the rents on units.
“We can’t increase the rents too much, we have to keep them low,” she said.
Modray has written several times to the district about the issue.
“I never gave up on this issue,” she said.
The Seniors Society will join 11 other metered buildings in town, including the Squamish Terminals, which is the only major industry that is metered.
Discussion on finding a more equitable and fare system of billing utilities has happened more than a few times in the council chamber.
The district had recently proposed a flat and variable charge structure, but the idea was finally rejected.
District staff has acknowledged that only a water meter can determine everyone’s fair share of bill, but they have also said it’s a costly endeavour.
But even that is contested by Coun. Patricia Heintzman.
She believes a real honest discussion on water meters has never really happened in the council chambers.
The time has come to do that, she said.
“We have yet to determine the cost of water metering,” Heintzman said.
She also said it’s a common misconception that we must be water surplus just because it rains a lot here.
“We don’t have droughts here, but we do have to restrict water usage in the summer,” she noted.