Higher water rates are coming for owners of three Kelowna golf courses.
But the new fees will still be lower than comparable fees and charges that apply to golf courses in areas served by the City of Vernon, Black Mountain Irrigation District and Glenmore-Ellison Improvement District, said heard from the municipal councilors on Monday.
In the past, Harvest Golf Club, Orchard Greens and Gallaghers Canyon/Pinnacle were served by the Southeast Kelowna Irrigation District, which was taken over by the city. They paid water tariffs based on an agricultural classification.
A public consultation process found little support for keeping golf courses at an agricultural water rate, council heard.
The new tariffs will be introduced gradually and by 2024 they could be between 20 and 22 cents per cubic meter.
The board heard staff estimates that Gallagher may end up paying about $11,000 more per year, while Orchard Greens may pay several thousand more, and Harvest Golf Club fees may not change much, because much of his property is active farmland and therefore qualifies for the lower rate.
Com. Brad Sieben said he was unimpressed that golf course owners would only find out on Friday what the new, higher rates were on offer.
“There should have been more dialogue about this,” Sieben said, adding that golf courses are major employers and contribute significantly to the city’s economy and tourism.
In response, water operations manager Andrew Weremy said, “The city doesn’t usually consult on rates because we pretty much know the answer: keep them low.”
Sieben and some other advisers wanted the case postponed, but a majority said the higher rates were justified, especially since the system was completely rebuilt at huge cost to improve service and reliability.
“I don’t see any benefit in postponing this,” the adviser said. said Gail Given. “It’s important that we move forward… It’s a reasonable price compared to what the others are paying in the Valley.”