Residents talk stormwater at Your Voice

By Kassidy Christensen

March 7, 2017 12:00 AM

WATER WATER EVERYWHERE Mayor Gerald Aalbers discusses issues with Lloydminster resident Lloyd Lavigne at the March 2 Your Voice event, which was held to inform residents about the stormwater management system and the upcoming stormwater system levy. KASSIDY CHRISTENSEN LLS PHOTO

The City of Lloydminster held a Your Voice open house to hear what residents had to say about the proposed stormwater utility bylaw.
Mayor Gerald Aalbers was present at the March 2 event to discuss the proposed levy with residents, and said they understood the situation as they went through the storyboard posters that were set up at the event.
“They (residents) get a really good perspective of what we’re doing, why we need to do it, and I think the understanding is there, tough one is it’s going to take a little money,” Aalbers said.
The stormwater utility bylaw, which passed first reading during council on Feb. 27, will help generate the funds needed to repair the deteriorating stormwater system.
The proposed levy would appear as a new line item on residents’ utility bills at a minimum charge of $13 per month to a maximum of $480 per month, depending on lot size, to a maximum of 30,000 square metres. Vacant/undeveloped lots will be charged by a factor of 0.25 the regular rate, starting at $3.30 per month. 
About 99.4 per cent of residential properties and 94 per cent of all properties fall under the minimum $13 per month fee.
The allocation of money raised through the levy was explained at the Your Voice event, and will be distributed three different ways. Based on a $13 per month fee, $0.92 will be placed into capital reserve, $2.92 will go towards maintenance of the system, and $9.16 will fund depreciation.
The reception from residents on having to impose a levy hasn’t been too bad, Aalbers said, but when the levy shows up on utility bills, it may be a little different. The levy’s targeted start date is April 27.
“I think most people understand … maintenance is required and we haven’t taken tax money and put it into that, where we’re going to go is have a levy,” he said.
Alan Cayford, director of operations for public works with the City of Lloydminster, said the model for the levy is really very simple.
“We didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, it was about deciding how many dollars we needed to raise and finding a formula based on the square metres that got us to that number,” Cayford said.
Nine major capital projects have been identified to improve the existing stormwater system.
Two capital projects highlighted on the storyboards displayed were improvements to the Neale Edmunds Complex, costing $1.2 million, and improvements to the existing stormwater system, costing about $57 million.
Annual operating costs for the stormwater facility are $530,000.
Cayford explained he thinks they’re going to try to get at least one of the five control structures in the Neale Edmunds Complex completed.
“At least one this year, I think that we’ll generate enough money over the course of the first two years and we should be able to do hopefully all five (control) structures out there within the first couple of years and that will be a significant improvement,” Cayford said.
Fifty per cent of the stormwater pipes have been installed in the past 25 years, and 38 per cent of the pipes are over 38 years old.
In total, the city’s stormwater system has 110 kilometres of pipe, and 15.8 kilometres of drainage channels. Improvements to the stormwater system are needed to help prevent future flooding events due to extreme weather conditions.
Aalbers explained people have asked him where their money goes, to which he added, “you can actually see if you go out to the Neale Edmunds Complex and see the work that needs to be done, and after the work’s done you will actually see money spent right in the ground.”
The mayor said it will not be the perfect solution, but, “it’s certainly going get us to a much better place than we are today.”
Ben Harrison, Lloydminster resident and attendee at the Your Voice open house, said it was a great presentation that seemed to explain things fairly clearly.
“I definitely really like the idea of setting up a reserve, even if it means it costs a little bit extra every month, it’s a great idea to kind of get ahead, save some money up.
“I really like the idea that there will be extra people paying in to the system too,” Harrison said.
“I think it’s really important if you live or work or go to school or whatever kind of purpose a building is within the community, there should be a contribution towards costs.”
Aalbers said he would like to get the bylaw moving forward as quick as they can.
“I haven’t talked to administration yet to determine exactly when we’ll be back, it’s not going to be in six months, it will be in the shorter than the longer.”

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