A new home that was started without authorization has led to the revelation of water issues that could prove costly for residents of Farrell Road.
The city has denied a building permit for a new home at 906 Farrell Road because of deficiencies in the areas water system.
Unfortunately, the application came only after the property owner constructed the foundation and basement — leaving a partly-finished home on the lot and the neighbourhood looking at a $220,000 bill to get their water system up to par.
“It’s unfortunate we have a project that started without a building permit, and now we’re scrambling to come up with a solution,” said Mayor Mark McKee.
The issue was brought to council for discussion last Tuesday, July 28. Mike Thomas, the city’s director of engineering, explained the situation in a seven-page report outlining what was at issue, and the possible ways to pay for the necessary upgrades.
His recommendation, which was supported by council, was to create a Local Service Area that would pay for the upgrades over time. Whether the small neighbourhood – which consists of only 10 lots – supports that remains to be seen.
The area is currently serviced by one four-inch pipe, that connects to a fire hydrant; beyond that the homes are serviced by two 1.5″ pipes. Thomas’ report says that adding another house to the system “will reduce water pressure and flow to adjacent homes.”
Perhaps more importantly, the flow to the hydrant is only 30 litres per second, which is half the amount required to meet fire flow regulations.
Thomas said the city wants to install an 8″ pipe that would service the neighbourhood and would connect to the existing four inch pipe at the fire hydrant. Thomas reviewed several options for paying for the upgrades. One was to divert money from the Illecillewaet River water main crossing project, but that was rejected.
“We’d look pretty foolish if something happened to that water line and we spent money over here,” said McKee.
Another option was for the city to pay for the costs up front, and then charge any new developers for the work. It’s an option that was used for the Arrow Heights sewer, but Thomas said the charge could scare off future development.
“Let’s say the city pays the up front cost and we’re expecting development to pay for it. If that doesn’t happen, the city’s out of pocket,” he said. “That would definitely be a risk.”
His recommendation was to establish the LSA. For this to proceed, half the property owners in the area would have to support the project.
They would pay for the upgrades over the next 20 years.
“An LSA allows the residents to decide if this is a project the residents want to part of. If it fails, we can look at other options,” said Thomas.
Councillor Scott Duke said the LSA would be a tough sell to the neighbourhood, who would be looking at about $100 per month added to their water bills. “I don’t think they’re going to bite into it,” he said.
Despite that, council voted for the LSA option.
“I think at this point the only way to get water to this area is through the LSA,” said coun. Gary Sulz. “I think taking money away from the river crossing is not going to be in our best interest.”
The Farrell Road neighbourhood isn’t the only one with infrastructure issues. The Big Eddy is the most well known area, but Thomas’ report says issues also exist on LaForme Boulevard, west of Columbia Park drive; most of Clearview Heights, Oak Drive, the KOA campground, the airport, parts of Upper Arrow Heights, and the Monashee Estates development at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.