Mayor Gord Milsom

West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom, shown here in a file photo, and the rest of council will hear Tuesday that a parcel tax of $150 should be introduced to help pay for the city's new water treatment plant.

Thousands of West Kelowna residents face a new $150 annual property tax to help pay for the city’s water treatment plant.

The charge should be added to regular property taxes beginning in 2023, city administrator Paul Gipps says.

It will apply mainly to property owners in the Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna Estates and Shannon Lake neighbourhoods, as well as the city’s industrial area.

In addition to the new property tax surcharge, formally called a parcel tax, the city has already approved a plan to significantly increase water usage rates. They will have risen from about $400 a year for the typical household in 2017 to almost $1,000 by next year.

In a report going to council Tuesday, Gipps also advises that the coronavirus pandemic will change the way the city communicates to residents about construction of the new water treatment plant.

“Due to the COVID-19 social distancing requirements, the non-statutory communications and engagement for the Rose Valley water treatment plant will change,” Gipps says.

“This means staff are looking at using more digital tools to inform and seek input from our community instead of holding public meetings, open houses and events,” he says.

However, Gipps also says firms that provide internet support are “extremely busy” trying to expand their clients’ network capacity.

“(So) it may take a bit of time to increase our digital engagement platforms to accommodate more virtual engagement in the weeks and months ahead,” he says.

“Although our community can expect that changing our services will take some time, daily information and engagement remain through our existing channels,” he says.

These include the city’s main telephone line, 778-787-1000, as well as its website, Facebook page and Twitter account.

In 2017, the city received federal and provincial grants totalling $41 million for the new water treatment plant. The city’s share of the project, to be completed by spring 2022, was originally estimated to be $12.5 million.

The first of two major tenders associated with the project has been awarded, and Gipps’ report says it was for an amount lower than anticipated by city officials. However, he does not indicate the amount of the tender.