Hike in Sheg water rates helped one senior couple to rethink Manitoulin

NORTHEAST TOWN—At the March 8 committee meeting of Northeast Town council, water rates for Little Current and Sheguiandah residents on municipal water jumped once again, by four percent, a fact that is causing at least two residents of the community to plan a move.

In Sheguiandah, the four percent raise means residents are now paying $312 a quarter, or $1,248 a year. In Little Current, the raise puts town residents’ water bills at $107 a quarter or $428 a year.

“How can we afford that?” asked Sheguiandah resident and senior citizen Ruth Ann Bastert when she learned the new rates. “Between that and hydro rates, we can’t afford to live here anymore. We’re going to try and move. We just have to move.”

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Ms. Bastert said she and partner Nancy Bell have decided it’s time to leave their beloved Sheguiandah village home and move to Port Elgin.

“We love it here, but if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it,” she continued. “We do love it here and we’ve done really well here. We’ve been trying to cut out everything that we can but we’ve come to the end of it.”

“Holy geez,” remarked Ron Bowerman, who resides on Townline Road in Sheguiandah with his wife Linda. “It’s going to be hard on us seniors and we’re almost all seniors in Sheg.”

“They’ve got to do something,” he added. “They (the municipality) needs to quit spending money,” Mr. Bowerman added, pointing to the number of new trucks and equipment he sees at the public works garage.

Sheguiandah’s Ralph Batman said he realizes the rates are more than people would like to pay, but he understands the predicament of not having enough people on the system to cover the costs of maintenance. Mr. Batman said he wondered if more people would move to the Sheguiandah, however, if the rates weren’t so high—a Catch 22.

Mr. Batman said he used to haul water for the community, reaching 500 people, “and they didn’t die or get sick.”

“I think we’re stuck with it, really,” he said of the rates.

On Manitoulin, while the Northeast Town is the first municipality to set its 2018 rates, the other municipalities’ 2017 (annual) rates follow here: Northeast Town: Little Current, $749.40 (includes sewer) and Sheguiandah, $1,268.28; Assiginack: Manitowaning (single family dwelling), $1,380.75 (includes sewer) and Sunsite Estates, $1,632.86; Tehkummah (South Baymouth), $1,803.40 (includes sewer), the highest rate of the all the municipalities; Central Manitoulin (Mindemoya), $1,560 (includes sewer); Billings (Kagawong), $1,292; and Gore Bay (single family dwelling), $820 (includes sewer).