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Saturday , 10 April 2021

County of Vermilion River reviews Streamstown residents tax concerns

Streamstown resident, Veanna Challman, attended Tuesday’s County of Vermilion River council meeting to represent fellow residents and discuss issues with the community’s rising tax rates.

Streamstown is currently listed as a hamlet southeast of Marwayne. Residents first approached council in 2018 and feel they may benefit if it was listed as a multi-lot development (even if they have to be dissolved) or assess projects such as having street lights removed, in order to reduce their taxes.

“We moved here 30 years ago at that time everything was paved, the taxes kept increasing as sidewalks and paving disappeared, as well as residents,” said Challman.

“In 2018 we realized taxes seemed out of sorts with other areas of the county. We have town sized lots but pay for our own water and sewer (like acreages on a town sized lot) and we are on our third well. A lot of residents are on their second or third and have to have the sewer pumped out at additional costs.”

She said the cost to clean their septic depends on the size of holding tank, but with only 10 occupied residences they don’t have enough lots to justify a field tank. Originally when everyone had outhouses she said people didn’t have the problems they are having with modern day water and sewer.

“There was a family who stayed about 10 years who invested in a compost toilet and then their well went, so they abandoned their house and gave it to the bank. We don’t want to lose families and children – we want to build the community,” said Challman.

Since 2019 when their request to dissolve was put through, she said mill rates have climbed 4.7588 points, and now some residents are paying over $5,000 per year in county taxes. Thus she is wanting residents to receive a two year rebate from the hamlet’s reserves, but CAO Harold Northcott said, “There won’t be any reserves left once we get those roads up to a better quality.”

Currently, Rivercourse pays a higher rate, and the CVR is looking at potentially having these two as well as Tulliby Lake and McLaughlin’s mill rates adjusted.

Regardless before mill rates are finalized later this year, they hope to have studies done on Streamstown’s traffic and street lights, etc., so they can achieve a more fair rate for the community.

“We have a lot of traffic because there are 58 mailboxes and only 11 houses that pick up the mail (some may go unused). In addition, the county grader comes by multiple times per day as well as two school buses twice a day. The pavement was redone 20-25 years ago, and the roads are in terrible shape. We know a lot of the other acreage estates have had new pavement. The streetlights have remained and work as security for people getting their mail, but we could move the mailboxes,” said Challman.

“The difference in taxes between Streamstown and a multi-lot development is a $4.5 million difference.

That is up to a $1,700 difference in what someone is paying when they are already covering the maintenance of their own well and septic.”

Councillor Stacey Hryciuk said, “I actually really appreciated the letter and the passion you have for your community. We need to know what all the facts are and get all of the information. Even when just thinking of streetlights, instead of pulling them out, we need to find out who are they serving and what the cost is. We have to continually look forward so sometimes we can’t correct every issue.”

“We can’t just ignore this – maybe not a two year rebate, but something needs to be done,” said Councillor Jason Stelmaschuk.

There will be further discussion at the CVR meeting on March 9. More information will be presented including a 5-year trend in mill rates and additional community needs.

About Angela Mouly

Angela comes to Lakeland Connect after leaving traditional newspaper where she spent the past four years reporting on community events. Her repertoire includes writing about history, politics, agriculture, sports, entertainment and art. She was the third place recipient of an AWNA General Excellence Award for “Best Front Page” during their 2016 Better Newspaper Competition. Angela has lived in rural Alberta all her life and in Vermilion for the past 15 years. She looks forward to continuing to serve and inform the Lakeland community by joining in people's many adventures and sharing their stories.