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Utilities

Water

Unlike in the UK, properties here are spaced far apart, and for the most part, each home will have its own water supply. Some are dug wells, others drilled, some supplied from lakes, others shared sources. Drilled wells are best for purity and quality and go on for years – saving a fortune over time compared with the UK.

Sewage

In neighbouring Bear River town they have the most advanced working alternative treatment plant in Canada, which currently deals with the output of 45 homes, but is now under modification to accept up to 100. It uses “green” methods of processing and rending waste as promoted by the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales. In fact they do guided tours around its greenhouse complex.

Apart from that, houses in rural parts use septic tanks, as the cost of introducing proper town services as found in Britain would be absolutely prohibitive due to the distances involved. A septic system generally might consist of two interconnected in-ground holding tanks for the waste material to degenerate in. From this would lead a pipe network something in a fork formation. These would be drilled with multiple holes which would allow the fluids to leach out and feed the grass lawn that covers it. A well balanced system needs to be emptied every 4 or 5 years (cost £60).

Electricity

Called here “Hydro”, mainly because it is produced by water power. The Bay of Fundy which lies between Nova Scotia and mainland Canada has, in the Minas Basin, the highest tide in the world, around 50′ (15m). The tides are put to good use with an advanced tidal electricity generating system at Annapolis Royal, making a significant contribution to the national grid. (There are guided tours around the facility but not for kids.) Cost per unit overall is cheaper than the UK by about 15%, but we haven’t found an off-peak scheme yet. It’s billed bi-monthly.

Gas

There’s no collective gas system that we’ve found, but bottled gas can be bought just like the UK. As far as I’m aware, it’s not widely used and is paid for on delivery.

Oil

This is the main source of heating and delivered by tanker. For a big house like the one we rented, you are looking at an annual bill of £750 per year, invoiced on delivery.

Wood

The cheap and plentiful alternative fuel supply that most people use for heating and hot water. A well insulated property can use just logs for these purposes and also to cook with. You pay the driver on delivery, unless you fancy being a lumberjack, in which case it could be free. A small cottage would use four cords (cord = 8′ x 8′ x 4′) a year which costs around £210.

Rates (Local Taxes)

These are based on the value of your property, the more you improve it, the more you pay. If you live in a wooden crate you pay very little, but if you have built yourself a mansion, you pay a lot more. Quite fair really. The rate for our two bedroom vacation cottage on 2.5 acres, for a year, is £172 but that also includes a separate 5.5 acre woodland.

Phone

The monthly service charge for provision of a phone line is £17 (that’s just under £4 a week) and is billed monthly.

Ball-Park Running Costs

For budgeting purposes, the cost of running our cottage is £36 a week. That includes wood, electricity, hot water, light, insurance, municipal taxes, phone rental (calls extra) and satellite system rental.

© 2002 Klondike Pete

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