Increased water fees amid coronavirus causes conflict in Conrich

Given the volume of water, the developer said it amounts to roughly $15/mo per average homeowner bill

Residents of a Calgary-area community have filed a complaint against a developer for increasing their water rates amid the coronavirus.

The Cambridge Park community in Conrich, comprised of 200 homes and 1,000 residents, filed the complaint with the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) against Amar Developments Ltd.

Residents received a notice from the company that their water rate will increase from $3.71 to $4.45 – a roughly 20 per cent increase. They received the notice in April but the rate increase was retroactive to March.

“It’s frustrating because everybody’s at home. Naturally, the water usage is going to go up,” said Sunil Chaudhary, a Conrich resident.

It’s a troubling mix of messages said another resident.

“The government’s telling you to use water to wash your hands and keep sanitary. They’re telling you not to. It’s kind of ridiculous,” said Aaron Chatha. 

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Letter notifying residents of the water rate increase. / CONTRIBUTED.

Developer said credit will be issued

Rani Duhra, head of the company, said Rocky View Utilities Corp is hired to do their billing.  

“It was just an admin error on their part, but they corrected it. They made people aware of the error, and they gave them the credit of the increase,” she said. 

Credit was forwarded as reflected in a resident’s April bill. / Contributed.

The first notification for the increase came a month earlier from the Cambridge Park homeowner’s association, which she also heads.

“She used the wrong channel … she has no authority to do that,” Chaudhary said.

This was a mistake by Duhra’s secretary, accidentally sending out the notice with the wrong letterhead.

“[Her secretary] quickly rectified that,” she said, and sent out the notification at the correct time with the right letterhead.

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First notice of increase that was not sent by the developer. / CONTRIBUTED.

Reason for the increase

Water wells owned by Amar Developments serve the community. Duhra said that Alberta Environment put a limit on how much water they’re able to draw from these wells.

She said this is because a municipal waterline already exists and needs to be connected to the area instead of using groundwater.

Due to this, they’ve had to truck in large amounts of water. Duhra said this costs five times as much, adding to the fee increase. The company said they paid the prior trucking fee themselves, which was more than $60,000, she said.

Duhra said they made homeowners aware of the rate increase during an open house in January. It was temporary in order to cover the cost trucking in water.

While there was an open house in January, it was about the upcoming phase 4 development in the area. The notice didn’t specify that water issues or rate increases would be discussed.

Notice of January open house. / CONTRIBUTED.

Chaudhary said he attended the whole meeting and mentioned that the developer didn’t make the attendees aware that they were trucking in water, or of any rate increase.

“That was a kind of a blindside.”

No jobs but increased rate

The increase in the rate has been difficult for the community due to job losses caused by COVID-19.

“In my house alone, I’ve been laid off, my wife’s been laid off, my mom’s been laid off. We’re all at home and our water rates just went up,” said Chaudhary.

“I paid 300 dollars last month for my water bills.”

Duhra said water use has doubled because everyone’s at home due to the ongoing pandemic. She said if they can’t afford the fee increase, they have the option of being put on a payment plan. 

Residents said they’re currently unaware of any payment plan.

Duhra said the average water consumption per household is about 20 cubic metres. The difference of the rate increase in this case only comes up to an extra 15 dollars per month.

“The increase is very minimal in regards to the high cost that we are getting,” she said.  

The community is made up of multi-family homes, and the main problem residents expressed is being at home, which in turn will increase water usage causing higher dues.

“It’s a time where most Canadians income and job security is a serious concern,” said Chatha.

“A lot of people are out of work or temporarily laid off.”

Application of rate increase

A concern of the residents is that the company didn’t apply for a rate increase through the AUC, or give the residents 30 days notice. 

According to the AUC, developers can set water rates without commission oversight, if the developer and customers can reach an agreement. It’s efficient and cost-effective given the small size of some water utilities, and the associated costs of a formal Commission rate review, they said.

The AUC are now involved in settling the rates since a complaint has been filed. They said they have instructed the developer to take action to settle the case. There will be a formal, evidence-based adjudication process if no agreement is reached. 

Duhra said the company is also partnering with Rocky View County to run a water line to the community because the municipality doesn’t have the funds to do it. The rate increase will end once the water line is active. 

Rocky View County’s area structure plan for Conrich said piped utilities to support development are available in the area. It’s expected that new developments will connect to these service systems.

Duhra said that whatever the company has done is only to provide a service to the residents. 

“We are not making any money off of this,” she said.

“We haven’t done anything wrong. In fact, I wish I didn’t have to do this. We just have to do this to cover the [trucking] costs.” 

Sunny Samra said that hasn’t been communicated to the residents in writing.

“If it’s temporary it should be mentioned in the letter of the hike as well.”

Relation to phase 4

Amar Developments is working to bring in Phase 4 of Cambridge Park, which will include a business campus district.

Many residents are opposed to the Phase 4 development, saying that it’s not compatible with the outlook of the community and lifestyle expectations.

They claim that the water increase is interrelated, as it came shortly after a petition opposing phase 4 by the residents was sent to the county.

Duhra said the rate increase has nothing to do with the upcoming development or opposition.

“This development will be in the ground for a couple years, so that doesn’t make sense,” she said, since the fee is only for the current temporary trucking.

Residents want more clarity

The residents of Cambridge Park have a different view. The AUC said the focus of the homeowner’s application is about transparency and process.

“We’re frankly in the dark. They don’t communicate, they kind of do their own thing,” said Chatha.

Residents feel they are already struggling under quarantine conditions. They said increasing water rates is taking advantage of an uncertain economic situation.

“We’re just trying to do our best to combat this unfair hike.”

Duhra claims the company is undertaking projects to benefit the community.

“What we’re doing is only going to help everybody and everything.”

22 Comments

  1. I live in this community, we were told well in advance the prices would go up and have not seen increases in prices in a long time. Move on with your life AC, you live in a million dollar house complaining about 20 bucks

  2. Gary: I guess you don’t even know this community. I have talked with majority of people on the street I live on and all are frustrated with this 20% increase. This is obvious that developer is lying about usage and ever mentioning about increase. Matter of fact I have been told by this developer that water comes from city of Langdon which is total lie . How can you rely on comments of this developer who lied to sell their lots. Finally, this all water issue and increase in tariffs started after majority of resident started opposing phase 4 development. I am pretty sure you might have not attended that open house attended by developer… please check your facts.

    • Not sure why you would not want phase 4, it will increase your property value and provide us with the water line (and the development is paying for the water line, do you know how much that costs? your Little group thinks they have the ability to pay for it or convince someone else to pay for i….. what fantasy world do you live in). I’m not sure about the costs going up because of your phase 4 petitions, that is your opinion, why don’t you show the water rates you have paid for the past 5 years living here to show people the rate increases over the years; then I would like to see you complain after that.
      From what I know, the community is having a proper AGM to vote an elected board to take over the HOA, not a vote in one of your friends basements, where only selected houses get invited, fake signatures are used to complete the vote, and then the elected people prance around pretending to be the board (what education do you have to think that would work?). After the proper vote, the developer will have to provide all info, the elected board can then decrease the rates if they have the ability to. What will that cost you 100 bucks the time the new board takes over, how much is that going to make the developer?? Maybe you should go protest in front of their house, like members of your group chat have brought up, I would love to see how that all plays out.

      • I am not sure if you understand what is Phase 4 . If you are supporting Business campus beside your house I am pretty sure you are one of the developers assist. I have moved out of city to live in quite countryside living not to have big business campus in my backyard. Furthermore, for your information in the last open house help by your developer for phase4 there were around 75% of Cambridge park resident attended and opposed the Phase 4. Yet I believe you don’t care…

      • I must be the “developers aid” since I have a different option then your group.

  3. Pretty funny that these people live in multi million dollar houses with 10 people in each house, and they’re crying over a $20/month increase in their water bill LOL. Bunch of clowns. One of the idiots complaining has a massive water fountain on his driveway. If you can’t afford the house, don’t buy it. @ this Sunil character, if everyone in your house got laid off, obviously y’all aren’t doing anything right, might be better off getting something more in line with your income, rather than trying to keep up with Joneses. And Live Wire, get your facts straight before publishing bogus articles.

    • Everyone that’s been laid off around the world is not doing something right, y’all sound like the clown….

  4. People living in multi-million dollar homes complaining about a $15 increase in their water bill. Don’t live in a multi-million dollar home if you can’t afford the water bill. Jesus Christ…and don’t use quarantine as an excuse. There’s literally people who will be homeless because of this and you’re complaining about $15. Wow get a grip!

  5. I wonder how some educated people can deny the facts which are crystal clear. No Jan meeting happened here, which mentions the rate increase. Its Lie. you can’t call an open house a meeting. No one has seen any payment plan, its a lie. No one has seen any AGM, which was the first and primary duty of the previous HOA. No Financials filed for 2018 and 2019. As a community member and Household, we have the right to ask and get the paperwork anytime we need to check. This Developer provides nothing because the whole HOA was in their house. The first letter of rate increase sent under HOA because HOA and Developer are the same. When people complained about it, The Developer said that it was a mistake and letter sent under Developers letterhead. Then the rate was told to increase from 1st Mar but actually increased from 1st Feb. when people complained, and again Developer said it was a mistake. People in the community are not against $15-$20 here. People are against the tricks which the Developer is playing. People who came in this community are all well experienced in life and can entirely understand it.

    • You all are what the Indian call un-par. Pretty clear that you are just a bunch of babies crying about $15,what other reason do you have to be getting your panties in a bunch? Instead of being jealous of the developers accomplishments, how about you dummies use all these hours you’re wasting on this d*ck measuring competition and make something of yourselves so you can actually afford the houses you live in? Or better yet, if you’re so unhappy with your mansions, bounce, nobodies making you live in such “poor” conditions. Anyone else reading this article, please humour yourself and take a drive through Cambridge Park, and have a look at the poor conditions these poor souls have to endure, and if you can find it in your heart, please donate $15 to their cause or throw a few coins in the giant water fountain you will see on one of their driveways.

      • Oh and please, while you’re at the wishing well, use those pennies to wish these tattered souls well, pray for them to overcome the great depression they are in. They need your support more than anyone else Alberta!!!

      • @ Parm seems very jealous of this water fountain… Maybe if you didn’t let people take advantage of you and like the developer in Cambridge park is of the people in the community you would be able to afford one yourself…

      • Mr. Parm, I respectfully put my comments here and tried to give all the facts. But your comment and your words show your frustration and immaturity. That’s why you are deviating from the point and using this kind of language to justify yourself. Prove one of my comments wrong, Jan meeting, payment plan, AGM, Financials, wrong rate increase date, and I’ll agree with your opinion. None of your comments touches these points, and No one else in the comments ever said that this community is not good. No one is talking about mansions, fountains, poor people except you. Your remarks seem entirely off the track and full of anger and frustration, Not sure you need some help, or you are raised this way. Good luck to your family. I feel pity for them.

  6. I live in the area by prince of peace, I support what the developers are doing, we in prince of peace pay way more then the people of Cambridge pay for water, this waterline with the development will help decrease what our seniors pay. Anyone reading this should ask themselves who is more important the seniors on fixed income or these entitled individuals that built multi million dollar homes complaining their water bills have gone up a whole $20 dollars/month. You should be ashamed of your selves; I never saw any of you signing petitions for the truck stop that just got approved across the road from where phase 4 is. Maybe there is some personal vendettas towards the developers or some people trying to make a name for themselves because they can’t in other ways

  7. Some folks mentioned why people complaining for $15 or $20 increase in water bill while you living in multimillion dollars house if you can’t afford it why you bought the house here.

    This is not matter of we can afford or not this come down to principles, I am surprised by reading developer’s comment above calling for shame for complaining for water bill increase no respect for anyone (I know for fact these comments are from Developers since all the residents are on same page)

    • “All the residents”, I am not on your side and I heard a bunch of you faked signatures in your pretend HOA vote, if Everyone is on your side, why do you need to fake signatures. I just feel sorry for all the individuals that are going to sell their properties in the next couple years, your little group is going to devalue our property values with this great publicity, no one will want to live here. Hope you explained that to all your followers. Also, the way you talk makes you sound like a cult leader, keep telling your followers to drink your koolaid and see where they end up when no one wants to buy their houses, I’m sure they will still love you then.

  8. I feel like this article is quite one sided. I have been living in this community for several years and now these people have have moved in the last couple of years have been creating such problems over a non-existing issue. This community was so peaceful before dharminder premi, sunil chaudhary and their goons moved in. They came to my door pretty much threatening me to sign some petition they have against the developer. I am actually scared that if I don’t these people will vandalize my home or even worse do something to my family. I had a few minor issues with my home when I first moved in but the developer always listened and tried to come up with solutions. Also as I have lived on an acreage for all my life I understand the water issues/shortage. Have you tried talking with the developer? I had a conversation with them and it was pretty clear why the increase had to happen and how their goal is to get a water line for the community. I do not think there is any hidden agenda here, I feel there are a select few people whom are trying to create issues within this peaceful community- maybe they have a personal vendetta against the developer.

    I was at the council meeting regarding Phase 4 and I’ll admit I had my concerns regarding having a truck stop or garbage dump but that is not what the developer is planning. It was clear the commercial is for our benefit and will increase our property value. I would love to have a grocery store close by or a coffee shop or even a daycare where I know my kids would be nearby instead of having to drive 30 min to drop them off and pick them up.

    TO THE SELECT FEW PEOPLE WHO ARE CREATING PROBLEMS, PLS STOP SPEAKING ON BEHALF OF THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY!!!!!

  9. I saw this article and was interested to see that people’s water rates were going up and then I googled what area this is and I have never laughed so hard in my life. I’ll save my sympathy for people who are actually suffering and dealing with real problems. I live in the City of Calgary and my water bill has also increased because we’re using more water…it makes total sense why the rates have gone up. They probably should have gone up more for these residents considering where they are located. Rich, privileged people complaining…no thanks

  10. Look up the name of the developer and you will see all their great accomplishments, millions in fines, revoked licences, weekend jail time and picking up trash on the side of the road are not great accomplishments in most people’s eyes. @ Parm should really do some research or I guess being related you don’t have much of a choice on opinions…

  11. Wow PSJ you are extremely childish, I feel sorry for you. I thought this was about the community water supply and not some lame feud you have with the developer. Obviously you are an uneducated, jealous individual whom suffers from a lack of self-esteem. Please keep your immature comments to yourself

    • @ BrarS I would respond to you but I wouldn’t want you to feel threatened…..

  12. I can see that most of the comments here are from fake users. As for being rich babies, we worked hard to get where we are. Money doesnt grow on trees, if the developer had any sense, they would hand over HOA with integrity. They are the ones who resigned with forced requests for names to hand it over to. When it happened, they took a look a realized they would get in trouble for all the fraud they have committed over the years. We aren’t even complaining about the water rates, but if I have to dump out a tub of water because it is brown and murky and my daughter doesnt want to take a bath in it, who is accountable? The developer promised us city water, not the garbage she is giving us. Regardless of phase 4, she needs to give us clean water as she promised when we purchased the lots in the first place. Those of you saying we are rich and should be ashamed of complaining about water rates? Should we not, we cant even bathe in the water they provide, much less drink it. Disgusting that she has her trolls here.

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