GORE BAY—Gore Bay water users have made it clear they do not favour the installation of proposed water meters in the town with a group of Gore Bay residents gathering over 300 signatures of local businesses and homeowners who are opposed to the idea.
“We had said as a council we would discuss the outcome of the water survey we sent out (to water users) at our March meeting, and it is obvious by the results we have that a large majority voted down the installation of water meters,” said Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane in an interview with the Recorder on Tuesday.
As reported previously, the town had sent out a survey to all Gore Bay water users, asking for their position on the installation of meters on February 15. The results were posted at the town office and their website after being tabulated.
The question posed to water users was, “are you in favour of the proposed project to install water meters for the Gore Bay municipal water system?” A total of 74 voted ‘yes’ to the question with 231 voting ‘no.’ There were a total of 409 eligible voters/water users in the town, with survey responses provided by 305 voters, or 74.57 percent of water users.
Mr. Lane explained that council, “will now have to look our options. Maybe there is a different project we can undertake under the criteria of the government grant we had received (for the installation of water meters) in terms of water conservation. We can discuss this and other options at our March meeting, but I think the water meter issue is dead.”
However, Mr. Lane added, “I don’t want to see us return the funds that we had received from the government grant without looking at using it on another project to do with water conservation. “One thing we have been looking at is a project looking at the issue of those people who have to run their water all winter (due to faulty lines),” he said. “We are having an engineering study done on this, and will be receiving a report on this when it is complete.”
Funding the town had received to look at water meters does not have to be used up until late 2014, the mayor explained.
As well as the survey of water users undertaken by the town, a group of Gore Bay residents had put out a petition against the plans to install the meters. The group gathered over 300 signatures from local businesses and homeowners opposing the water meters.
“We had asked that this be on the council meeting agenda for February 11,” said Ruby Croft, who along with Joyce Foster, Bob Prior and Betty Lou Purvis, had spearheaded the petition campaign.
“I was presented with a petition last Friday,” Annette Clarke, town clerk, explained at a council meeting Monday.
In the covering letter to the petitions presented, it is stated: “We are presenting this petition that asked for support against the installation of water meters in the Town of Gore Bay to you, the clerk, Annette Clarke, and ask that all council members be made aware of the said petition.”
“Over the last several weeks we have gathered over 300 registered and non-registered signatures in support of the petition with over 225 of these being home or business owners,” the petition proponents noted in a letter to council. “Even though all residents of the town do not receive a water bill, everyone will be affected by any increase to water rates, even apartment tenants.”
“As stated in the petition, costing was based on estimates with too many unknowns of future costs to both the users and to the town. Figures have shown that other communities with meters have increased user rates substantially,” the letter states. “We should all be aware that meters will not locate or fix the problems that apparently are evident with our water system, nor will they reduce water rates.”
“Council has indicated they wanted further input and we feel the petition has helped to accomplish this and should not be taken lightly. We ask that all council members take the results of this petition into serious consideration when making their decision for the installation of water meters.”
At a Gore Bay council meeting last week, Mr. Lane said, “I would like to thank you for your efforts in gauging the opinion of people.”
Council had agreed they would have the results of the survey posted last Friday, instead of waiting until their March meeting to make the results known.
At the March council meeting, Mr. Lane said, “we will again acknowledge the survey results and look at existing water rates which were put in place a long time ago, and look at whether they are still relevant. I am certainly not satisfied with the water rates, with some paying too much and some not paying enough. And maybe we can look at other ways of conserving water, for instance the summer watering, and other ways to conserve water. The whole idea is conservation and if we use less water in total it will mean less pressure, and less money that is spent on the system. The issue of water rates is not dead, although water meters are as far as I’m concerned.”
Mr. Lane said in referring to the water user’s survey results, “I’m a little disappointed in the outcome, a lot of people seemed to be voting on emotions more than facts. And there was a strong lobby effort against the water meters, but we said the survey results would be binding on council’s decision and it will be.”