Residents of a neighbourhood in Surrey, B.C., with an old, crumbling, sewer system that's about to be replaced say they're concerned about who is going to pay for it.

Bridgeview, the small community that sits in the shadow of the Pattullo Bridge, has a sewer system built in the 70s. The city says the outdated system costs a fortune in maintenance.

Jeff Arason

Jeff Arason with the City of Surrey says the new Bridgeview sewer system will cost $15.5 million and the city will pick up more than half the bill. (CBC)

"The existing system is a vacuum system. It's the only one we have operating in the city and I think it's the only one operating in the Lower Mainland," said City of Surrey manager of utilities Jeff Arason. 

The new sewer won't be cheap — $15.5 million. The city will pick up a little more than half of the cost; the rest of the money will come from new development as an additional fee of about $8,000.

"We'll recover that cost over time, whenever that property seeks to redevelop whether it be 10, 20, 30 years or what have you," said Arason.

Residents 'freaking out'

The city sent letters to homeowners explaining they won't have to pay the fee unless they build a new home. But some residents say the letter is confusing, and if they ever want to sell, the sewer tax could scare off buyers.

"It was, like, a ten page document that you couldn't really make sense out of for a while," said Brideview resident Shannon Walker. 

Bridgeview sewer

The sewer system in Bridgeview is the only one left of its kind in the Lower Mainland, says the City of Surrey. (CBC)

"It took us all sitting down together. I had to explain to my parents. They were freaking out."

Walker said she hopes to keep the city from moving forward with the project if she can get her neighbours to sign a petition.

"My plan is to go door to door if I have to, because we need 50 per cent of the community to say no to it, to petition against it by February 12, otherwise everyone is going to owe," she said. 

Walker said she's aiming to make her case to her neighbours at an open house later this month. She said she hasn't had any problems with the old sewer system — it's just the situation that stinks.

With files from Jesse Johnston