Residents voice concerns with water meter proposal

GORE BAY—While a public meeting has been set for September 19 in Gore Bay concerning a proposal for water meters to be installed on all housing and business units in town, some local residents have already provided their input and concerns on the proposal.

“This is an ill conceived idea initiated by a person wanting to install and sell meters as well as another person feeling the rate charged to those with pools was excessive,” stated local resident Paul Purvis. “The meters will only cause our water costs to increase immediately and in the future.”

Ken Wright said, “From a selfish point of view, I’d be done for if they install meters.” He has a large garden which he sells all kinds of produce from, “and this brings in a lot of people from Sudbury, Espanola, Massey and other parts of the Island, and when they come here to purchase some of my goods they will also go over the bill, and go for lunch or supper or just go shopping in Gore Bay. I won’t be able to continue my business if they put in water meters because of the costs involved.”

Mr. Wright said in regards to young families with kids, “one couple I know has four young kids, which means extra laundry and showers. This is going to hurt them, and others, at a time when we should be encouraging families to move here. Our schools are pretty much empty now. What will putting in water metres do to encourage young families to live in Gore Bay?”

“I don’t know why the town feels they have to have water meters,” said Mr. Wright. “We already have a water treatment plant that can take a capacity of water users and produce enough water to handle a city like Sudbury.”

“The town tells people to get rid of old vehicles they have on their properties, but what’s worse? That or having lawns full of brown grass all over Gore Bay?” questioned Mr. Wright. “And the other thing is who is the biggest employer in the area, Manitoulin Transport. Yes, there are people from Gore Bay who work there, but most of the people come from Little Current, Manitowaning and other parts of the Island. For those who work here, and with the high gas prices, why is it that more people don’t want to live in Gore Bay?”

“We have a medical centre, terrific grocery store, dentist, government building, and court house,” continued Mr. Wright. “Why aren’t people moving to Gore Bay? This has to be political, there is no encouragement for people to build here in town.”

“For garages who wash vehicles, run the laundromat or seniors on fixed incomes, this is going to hurt them. I can’t see why council is doing this unless they are being mandated by the government, but this hasn’t happened.”

Another local resident who has raised concerns with the proposed water meters being installed in town is former mayor Joyce Foster. “I did up a letter which is being sent to council and I’m hoping to get some answers to the questions I’ve proposed.”

“If you read it, we have listed 17 concerns,” said Ms. Foster. “My main concern is the public doesn’t know what they are getting into, because some may feel by having water meters it means automatically they will get a cheaper rate.”

Ms. Foster explained, “the town requires an ‘x’ amount of dollars to operate the system, and there is and will be a base rate for everyone. However, if someone uses more water and they go over the base rate, it will cost them more.”

“It certainly will cost more for young families, because they have to use more water for laundry and showers for their kids,” said Ms. Foster. “For a couple like Tom (her husband) and me, we can cut back. But for seniors as well, they have a limited income and they could end up paying more with water meters as well.”

In the Foster’s letter to the town they are requesting a response from council on 17 questions. Among them they ask, “what is the purpose of installing metres? If it is to save water or that we extended our limit of litres as per our licence, then why was there no restrictions on water use this summer; especially when it has been so dry? With the previous council I was aware of one incident when we went over our litre limit and that was due to problems we had with the system.”

The public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 19 at 7:30 pm in the Gore Bay Community Hall.

Tom Sasvari