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Princeton residents could face a 70% tax increase in 2022, due to flood bills

The municipality owes $2 million, and is asking for help from the federal government
One of the projects costing Princeton is the drilling of new water lines under the Tulameen River. In the photo above, Mayor Spencer Coyne displays the municipality’s ingenuity in using a series of fire hoses to carry water to the north side of town, before the province approved a more permanent solution.

The Town of Princeton owes $2 million in flood repair bills, according to Mayor Spencer Coyne.

If those dollars cannot be sourced from the federal government, local ratepayers could be facing a 70 per cent tax increase in 2022, he said.

“It’s not something we can put off,” said Coyne. “It’s money that has been spent and people are looking for their money.”

So far the total cost of flood repairs, including dyke replacements and installations, along with new water lines beneath the Tulameen River, is approximately $10 million. The province pays for 80 per cent of that, but the municipality is on the hook for the balance.

The federal government has promised $5 billion to B.C. in response to the emergency, but there is no word yet on how that contribution will be spent.

“One per cent of that would help us…two per cent would be better…but we have heard nothing about where that money is going,” Coyne added. “It would get us into the position where we could rebuild, pay our debt, plus get us to the point where we are standing on our own two feet.”

Coyne admitted to feeling “not optimistic,” about the possibility of federal assistance. “You can see how frustrating it is. I yell at the government pretty much every second day now…Justin Trudeau has said that he’s got our back, but I don’t know what that means.”

Borrowing $2 million could be an option, however the approval process for such a loan would take at least six months.

Last year the municipality initiated a $7 million loan application for infrastructure improvements, and it has still yet to be approved by the regional district. Regardless, said Coyne, those funds can only be spent on specific projects in the proposal.

There are six separate projects planned.

The most costly is a full replacement of the sewer trunk main from Tulameen Avenue and Allin Place, through to Fenchurch Avenue and Lime Street. The estimated cost is $4.28 million. This will address deficiencies in the line and include a new river crossing at Angela Avenue. It will secure service and allow developers to pay to hook up to the sewer system.

The Fenchurch Lift Station will be upgraded, and a four-inch sewer pipe in North Princeton will be replaced. As well, a fourth well will be dug to provide better water flow for consumer consumption and fire protection, and the Billiter Warren Booster Station will be replaced.

Related: ‘It’s just unbelievable’: Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth tours Princeton flood

Related; Princeton flood victims eligible for $1,000 from community foundation relief fund

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Andrea DeMeer

About the Author: Andrea DeMeer

Andrea is the publisher of the Similkameen Spotlight.
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