More than 180 property owners and businesses in Fall River will soon be able to tap into the Halifax municipal water system — but it will cost them each thousands of dollars more than originally estimated.
Each will pay a $11,500 local improvement charge for the service, which will see a water main installed along Fall River Road. The original estimated charge was $7,500.
Halifax municipal spokesperson Brendan Elliott said tenders for the project came back more expensive than expected. Roughly 50 properties were removed as a result, he said, which means those that remain must pay more.
Work started last month on the $8.6-million project, which is expected to be completed by fall 2018. The federal and provincial governments are contributing about $6 million.
It is not mandatory to connect to the water main if you have a well or other water source. However, every property owner along the route, even if they choose not to connect, will still have to pay the local improvement charge.
The municipal councillor for the area, Steve Streatch, said that's just the nature of water-system installation.
"The local improvement charge is purely and simply that. It is an improvement not only in your property but in the value of your property," Streatch said.
Stephanie Jarvis lives on Fall River Road and owns two side-by-side lots. The new water line, then, will be doubly expensive for her family.
"We now own two lots, so we'll now have to pay over $22,000 on top of the taxes we already pay. Being a new homeowner, that's going to make for a really tight budget," she said.
Three schools, the Gordon R. Snow Community Centre and the Fall River fire station will also get water. The municipality, however, isn't paying for its properties — and local business owner Jaro Schubert wants to know why.
Schubert, who opened Turtleback Tap & Grill in Fall River seven months ago, won't immediately be connected to the water system. His restaurant is on Highway 2, just south of Fall River Road, the stretch of road that falls under the potential Phase 2 of the project.
"We need water, it's something that we need," Schubert said. "But the problem here, I believe, is that all the HRM properties are not paying. So everybody else needs to eat the cost."
Elliott said council has already passed a motion to look at increasing its contribution, which would allow it to pay for municipal properties that will benefit from the new system.
Other business owners would welcome the prospect of municipal water, including Ron Nelson, who owns Inn on the Lake with his wife Susan. He said he was "very disappointed" when he learned his inn, also on Highway 2, fell under Phase 2.
"Anybody who has a business on Highway 2 should certainly be delighted to see the water go in," he said. "I certainly can't see why any business wouldn't want to see it. It will certainly increase their property value. It will certainly avoid costly upgrades to their water systems in the future."
Right now, the inn treats surface water from Lake Thomas with chlorine baths and salt baths. It has an intake pipe from the lake that brings the water in.
Installing an upgraded treatment system would mean about $750,000 in capital and operation costs, Nelson said. Getting municipal water will cost him a fraction of that.
Inn on the Lake has received approval to allow it to expand into a six-storey condo with 76 units. Nelson hopes to get that development started, but said those plans are on pause until he knows the water is going through.
An earlier version of this story said the water main would run along Fall River Road, then south on Highway 2 to the Highway 102 interchange. In fact, the main will only run along Fall River Road, with a potential for the project to be expanded at a future date.Oct 12, 2017 4:13 PM AT