When Summerland goes to metering for water use, agricultural users will continue to pay considerably less than domestic users, but the details have yet to be determined.
At a special meeting of municipal council on Monday morning, council members discussed various options to determine who should qualify for the lower agricultural rate.
Properties in the Agricultural Land Reserve and with farm status will receive the lower rate.
Council is also considering extending the lower rate to properties outside of the land reserve if they are being used for agricultural purposes.
In order for this option to work, smaller property owners would need to apply to a court of revision to show that they are using the water for a commercial agricultural use.
“We’re trying to promote agriculture,” said Mayor Janice Perrino.
Council is also considering how to charge properties within the Agricultural Land Reserve but not used for agriculture.
At present, there are some properties within the land reserve which are not farmed but qualify for agricultural rates and allotments.
“Just because you’re in the Agricultural Land Reserve does not give you the right to cheap water,” said municipal planner Ian McIntosh.
Municipal administrator Tom Day asked why a property owner should be able to qualify for the agricultural rate in order to keep a lawn green.
Coun. Martin Van Alphen said the water rates are in place to manage the community’s water supply.
“We don’t have a water shortage,” he said. “We have a water management issue.”
The discussions about billing are part of an ongoing study about how to meter water for the municipality.
In the past, Summerland has had a system of allotments for agricultural water users and flat monthly rates for residential users.
The community is in the process of moving to a metered watering system, but the rate structures have not yet been determined.