LANCASTER, Ontario – The council of the Township of South Glengarry has voted to put the proposed water rate increases in Glen Walter and South Glengarry on hold until further review has been made.
The vote was made at the township council meeting held on Tuesday, Aug. 6.
The water rates for Glen Walter and Lancaster jumped from $804 per year in 2016 to 2018 to $1,105 in Lancaster for 2018-2019 and $1,078 for Glen Walter for that time period.
Those rates were scheduled to jump again to $1,265 and $1,352 respectively for the year 2019 to 2020 starting on Sept. 1, 2019.
Councillor Stephanie Jaworski spoke in favour of the hold.
“I think based on comments we got during last election, this is a request for the people serviced by these areas,” she said.
Jaworski said she hoped to get a better understanding of the reasoning behind the increases during the review period.
Lachlan McDonald, Township of South Glengarry’s head of Corporate Services, said that he applauded last council for making their decision to pass these increases, explained how most of the revenue would be contributed to the Township’s reserve fund.
Deputy Mayor Lyle Warden, who served on council during last term, defended them.
“I voted for these increases on last council. I thought the reasons administration put forward at that time were reason,” Warden said. “Residents here in the town of Lancaster are currently paying 1.1 cent per litre for water being pumped in and being taken away. I don’t think that is unreasonable.”
Warden also warned against dismissing the importance of reserves to replace equipment at the municipality’s water treatment plant in Glen Walter.
“In Glen Walter, there are no reserves. That pump is $900,000 and if we have to get another pump next year we’re going to be borrowing,” he said.
Mayor Frank Prevost spoke in favour of putting the increase on hold and taking time to review the decision.
“I will certainly support the motion on the table,” he said. “Councilors should have a right to review the changes we could make, and if there are no changes, at least we can review it.”
In the end, only Deputy Mayor Lyle Warden voted against putting a hold on the water rate increase.
If, after further review, Council chooses not to increase the water rates, they would lose $174,000 in revenue for the 2019-2020 year.