Residents of Purcell's Cove laughed out loud Monday night when a consultant told them the price tag for a sewer and water hook-up that they don't want.
Steve Murphy of CBCL Limited laid out the options the consulting engineers came up with as part of a feasibility study on extending sewer and water service to residents of the so-called Area 1 of Purcell's Cove, which goes from Wenlock Grove to Oceanview Drive. A survey last fall prompted council to scrap the idea of looking at extending sewer and water to Area 2 - which goes from Oceanview Drive to Ferguson's Cove Road.
Murphy projects a minimum cost of $15 million that would have to be divided between a small number of residents of Area 1 - most of whom do not want the service.
"The cost per property is $61,000 per property in Area 1," Murphy said, igniting a burst of laughter from most of the 100 or so people who attended the meeting at the Captain William Spry Centre on Feb. 25.
"If there is future development of 1,200 units, the cost would come down to $10,500 per property," Murphy said, prompting a chorus of sarcastic oohs and aaahs.
The $61,000 figure is low, says resident Catherine McKinnon because it assumes that many lots will be subdivided to lighten the burden.
The cost could climb to as high as $97,000 if there is no subdivision of lots and the costs are shared among current residents.
Murphy elicited a collective gasp from the audience when he said the study only looked at the cost of building laterals to the property line. Homeowners would have to pay the cost of connecting homes to the laterals.
As if the residents weren't already suffering from sticker shock, Murphy said that his confidence in the accuracy of the cost was "plus or minus in the 25 per cent range."
City planner David Lane reminded the members of the steering committee that they didn't have to pick one of the six options presented by CBCL.
"We are seeking a recommendation from the steering committee and you have full reign to make any recommendation you choose," he told them.
The next meeting is March 25.
"We're near the end; it's been a long road," Lane said.
That it has dragged on so long bothers the residents, who spoke after the meeting.
"It's shocking to me that we're still talking about this when there's a surplus of suburban lots in HRM and residents have said they don't want water and sewer," said Johanna Lunn, whose property straddles the border between Area 1 and 2.
Andrew Murphy said the problem started with a faulty survey that led to the feasibility study. It didn't give residents an accurate portrayal of what might be done and so it netted inaccurate results.
"Somebody approached me and said 'Would you like sewer and water,'" he said. "They didn't talk about cost and they didn't talk that the cost of this would be turning this area into a Clayton Park West-like subdivision."
If somebody told Murphy that if he wanted city sewer and water he'd have to pay $100,000, spend more time driving to work, plus suffer a loss of peace and quiet, he'd balk.
"I'd say 'Are you nuts?'"