M.D. of Lesser Slave River council spent July 18 in a ‘strategic’ meeting on bylaws, policy and procedures of its utilities department.
The report in council’s July 19 meeting agenda didn’t say so, but the discussion must have covered recent complaints from a handful of residents about sudden, much higher water costs.
Two of them had appeared before council in recent weeks, shocked at how much their costs for water had gone up – in one case for watering a herd of cows; in the other for water a three-acre lawn, 24/7, during the dry month of May. They were hoping for some kind of relief on those big bills.
The first of two proposed motions at the July 19 meeting was to “continue to adhere to Bylaw 2022-14, Schedule ‘B’, and to advise concerned citizens….”
“Does that mean no relief?” asked councillor Brad Pearson, who had missed the July 18 strategic session.
“Yes,” said councillor Sandra Melzer.
“For all residents with those elevated bills?” said Pearson.
“There weren’t that many,” said Reeve Murray Kerik.
“I heard 18,” said Pearson.
The motion passed, with Pearson and Darren Fulmore opposed.
Pearson said the only reason he voted ‘no’ was because of the impression that residents hadn’t been informed, or adequately informed, of last year’s steep hike in water, after a certain threshold of use.
“They weren’t notified,” Fulmore said.
“It was on the website,” said CAO Barry Kolenosky.
“Which nobody reads,” Fulmore said.
Motion #2 was to have administration “draft a plan to increase accuracy, effectiveness and efficiency of utility services provision for area ratepayers.”
We can’t do full cost-recovery, Pearson said.
Agreed, said councillor Norm Seatter. It’s a question of what percentage.
“We’re not done with this one,” said reeve Kerik.
“I don’t think we ever will be,” said Pearson.
by Joe McWilliams