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South Glengarry weighs regional approach to water billing

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By Nick Seebruch
South Glengarry weighs regional approach to water billing
The Glen Walter sign on County Rd. 2 (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

SOUTH GLENGARRY, Ontario – The Township Council of South Glengarry had mixed feelings about combining the Lancaster and Glen Walter water systems into one administrative region at their meeting on Monday, July 6, 2020.

The topic was a part of an overall review of South Glengarry’s water billing process as presented by Marco Vincelli of EVB Engineering.

Vincelli explained that by combining the two systems administratively, each region could see a decrease in their projected billing.

According to EVB, Glen Walter’s reserve fund for the maintenance of their system is currently 11 per cent underfunded, while the Lancaster system is 13 per cent over funded.

Currently, if the systems remain separate, EVB recommends that Glen Walter’s rates increase by three per cent a year for the next five years, increasing the annual residential water rate from $1077.18 in 2020 to $1,248.75 in 2025.

For Lancaster however, EVB is recommending a 20 per cent decrease in Lancaster in 2021, then three per cent increase over following three years.

Combined however, Glen Walter would see a three per cent decrease in 2021, and Lancaster would see a 5.46 per cent decrease in the same year.

Council found itself divided on the concept.

“I don’t think the reserve rates in Glen Walter and Lancaster are healthy,” Deputy Mayor Lyle Warden commented. “The Glen Walter pump is on the docket. That will wipe out that $800,000 reserve or close to it. I’m definitely not in favour of a regional approach. You are going to be pitting one group against the other per say.”

Councillor Stephanie Jaworski however, saw potential in the idea.

“I think there is merit in a regional approach. Spreading around the administration, spreading around the risk,” said Councillor Jaworski. “I think generally we should be getting public consultation on this.”

What was agreed upon was that Council consult with the public before voting on the possible administrative combination of the Glen Walter and Lancaster water and waste water systems.

Of note however, EVB did compare the two systems, and their costs to other regional municipalities. Both Lancaster and Glen Walter had the lowest number of users and lowest amount of volume in the region in relation to comparators, but had the highest costs for new connections at $10,560 in both locations. The connection costs for Lancaster and Glen Walter are double the closest comparator, North Dundas, which charges $5,223 for a new connection.

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