Council schedules public meeting on Gore Bay water meter proposal

GORE BAY—Residents and businesses in Gore Bay will have the opportunity to provide input on the proposed new water meter system the town is looking to have installed at a public meeting to be held next month.

At a council meeting last week, it was confirmed the public meeting will take place on September 19. “The idea is for the meeting to be held that night and then for council to deal with the issue at our October 9 council meeting,” stated Mayor Ron Lane. “If we decide to go ahead (with meters) we could start the tendering process and have the water meters installed in the spring. We need to get going on this—we’ve been dragging our feet on this issue for quite awhile now.”

It was explained that representatives of Neptune Technology Group (Canada) Ltd., who had made a presentation to council previously on water meters, will also be on hand at the public meeting.

“We will make a short presentation outlining our plans, and then we will have them (Neptune representatives) make a presentation,” said Mr. Lane. He stressed the public meeting, “will be a forum for people to express their opinion on having water metres, it will not be a debate.”

As well, written comments will be welcome by council, said Mr. Lane. “My intent is not for debate to take place that night (September 19), but a discussion where people can provide input; if there is to be debate it will take place at the council meeting held in October.”

“It’s important, we know people have various views on the water meters, and that is why we are holding this public meeting so people can express their views,” continued Mr. Lane.

Councillor Betsy Clark asked, “will the readings be taken and then the bills sent out with additional charges?”

Town treasurer Pam Bond explained that along with the basic (water use) rate being charged, “if you have used more water than what covers the basic rate, you would be charged for that as well.”

Mr. Lane confirmed water users would receive a bill that would include the basic rate, but could also include an extra charge for over consumption.

“The bill will include how much water has been used, and what amount they are over in consumption,” said clerk Annette Clarke.

“The suggestion had been made by the company we met with (Neptune) that the water meters would be operated for a year with the idea that the overall water usage would be established, and we can look at the rate-revenues needed to maintain the system. So the first year would be used to monitor usage and establish rates. Then the second year we would know what we are charging is supporting the system,” said Mr. Lane. “I suspect the base rate may actually be less than it is now.”

For instance, if a residence has a larger family, or someone waters their lawn 24 hours a day, seven days a week, this extra water consumption will be reflected on their bill, council was told.

Mr. Lane said that as far as concerns with significant increases in the water rates in regards to water meters, “all you have to do is read the paper about what Kagawong charges. I know there is a lot of fear out there that the local water rates are going to skyrocket with the water meters, but I don’t think so. The base rate won’t, but if you are a big user this will be shown in your bill. It’s just like hydro—if you keep your house at 80 degrees all winter, you will pay the extra costs as this is a public utility, but if people choose to conserve they will actually save money.”

Ms. Clarke also pointed out there would be advantages with the installation of water meters. For instance, if someone’s water consumption is out of sorts, it will help the town in detecting any leaks in the system. “We will know if there is a problem right away,” she said.

The public meeting on water meters will take place on September 19, 2012, at 7:30 pm at the Gore Bay Community Hall.