An aerial map showing the location of fire hydrants to a property that was looking to be subdivided in Keremeos. The request to avoid having to install another fire hydrant was rejected by council. (Village of Keremeos)

$75k watermain upgrade walls Keremeos subdivision

The senior couple who own the property wanted to split it in two

The troubled saga of property on Keremeos’ 6th Street has continued as the third set of owners has met with rejection in attempts to split the lot in two.

The Frasers went before village council on Oct. 3 with a simple request; to waive the requirement that they upgrade, at their expense, the watermain between 10th Avenue and 11th Avenue as part of the subdivision process.

The current watermain along 6th Street between the two avenues was built prior to current standards and uses 100 millimetre pipes, as opposed to the required standard of 150mm in the village’s bylaws.

The upgrades, which do not even directly border the property the Frasers wish to subdivide, along with the cost for installing a new fire hydrant would cost an estimated $75,000.

It’s steep cost and a requirement that came out of the blue for the Frasers.

Before they had purchased the property in 2019, the Frasers told council they had spoken to a member of the village’s staff, who has since left following the January attack, and they had been told that there would be “no issues” with subdividing.

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According to the Chief Administrative Officer Marg Coulson, who admitted that she wasn’t present for that conversation, believed that the question they had asked was simply whether the property was subdividable.

It was subdividiable, but at a far higher cost than the Frasers were ready, or willing, to pay. Especially after they had already spent $10,000 in getting water and sewer connected to the lot.

“As you can see, we are seniors,” they told council on Monday. “If this variance isn’t approved, we won’t be able to stay here.”

It wasn’t until after they had started the subdivision process in 2020, including getting the entire property surveyed, that the Keremeos Irrigation District responded with the additional requirement and water issues for the area.

One of the issues cited was a lack of a nearby fire hydrant, with the closest ranging from 120 metres away to 135, which is still within the village’s bylaw limit of 150 metres.

The property is listed within the irrigation district’s 35-year infrastructure plan, which could leave the Frasers or future owners waiting a long time to avoid fronting the costs of the project themselves.

The estimated $75,000 for the water main work and hydrant is more than a little issue for them, and for the previous owners of the property who ended up selling it instead of going forward with the subdivision.

The irrigation district noted that the area has largely been developed, leaving no way to institute a latecomers agreement to share some of the costs, and the village staff report states that the requirement for subdivisions to cover the costs of watermain work is intended to prevent existing taxpayers from shouldering the burden for redevelopments.

At the end of the day, only Coun. Jeremy Evans was swayed, while the rest of council voted to follow the recommendations that they had received as part of the staff report on the variance request.

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