Good news, the snow arrived just in time for Christmas and Sun Peaks enjoyed a very busy holiday period. January has started very well with the return of our lost friends from down under. Welcome back to all the Aussies and Kiwis, the biggest surprise is how much your children grew in the two years away from Sun Peaks. With the return of the southern hemisphere skiers, we can safely say that Sun Peaks is returning to pre-Covid numbers. Big congratulations to all our businesses who, while struggling with staff shortages, were able to deliver some super vacation experiences for record levels of guests, well done!! Lots of happy visitors and many great memories created.
Your council is wrestling with some weighty issues these days. We will be revisiting the short-term rental rules and regulations with the hope of finding rules that are simple and easy to follow. It appears that problem rentals are usually a result of poor screening and in some case poor judgement. We are not the only community that is learning along the way, other Municipalities are reviewing their regulations. We will move slowly and with full disclosure and opportunities for Sun Peaks property owners to voice their support or concerns. We will be looking at how we could tighten up compliance especially for repeat offenders. We will also be conducting online advertising reviews and strictly enforcing the Business Licensing Bylaws. If you are advertising and renting short term without a license, you have been warned, the fine for short-term rentals without a Business License is a minimum of $1,000 per day.
Council has approved a preliminary budget for 2023. Some bad news, after 11 years with budget increases that were on average below inflation, we do see a need to significantly increase Municipal spending in several areas. The preliminary budget proposes a 7.5% increase. Sorry but with inflation running near these levels, we need to be realistic. The final budget will be approved in April, so there could be some changes prior to that date. Daycare, additional snow removal and road maintenance costs and hopefully, an operating summer pool means increased services with the related costs. We will have a public meeting to review the final budget, most likely in late March or early April, everyone welcome.
This is in addition to increases in water and wastewater rates for 2023. The utility rates will rise on average about 10% for the coming year. Unfortunately, the costs of providing water and treating wastewater keep rising and the environmental improvements are also adding new costs. We have received an updated Utilities Report from our engineers that indicates that while we have water supply for a few more years with the new reservoir, a new pipeline down has a $6.5 million dollar bill. We also need to upgrade and increase our treatment capacity for wastewater, which is also very expensive. We will be undertaking a Development Cost Charge review early in the new year as the DCCs will have to increase with the new forecasted costs for expansion of our utility infrastructure. Previous Councils had recommended that 75% of the utility expansion costs be covered by new development so with the anticipated cost increases, DCCs will have to increase too.
Council will continue to live stream Regular Council and Special Council meetings as we return to in person meetings after more than 2 years online. All Council meetings will be recorded and will be available for review following our meetings.
Al Raine, Mayor