Present: Ray Cambria, Commission Chair; Bill Zinck Jr., Commissioner; Michael Heisler, Commissioner; Iris Tolliver, Clerk Treasurer
Regrets: Dave Foley, Commission Vice-Chair; Tom Mulrooney
There was one resident in attendance.
Chair Cambria called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm.
Nancy Hatch of Central Street asked to address the Commissioners and began by expressing her appreciation for the weekly green bin pick up program.
Next she addressed “the Future of our Village”. She quoted from a newspaper article on rural survival titled “Thirteen Ways to Kill a Community”. The number one and most effective way according to the article is to not have an adequate supply of potable water. This has been a matter of discussion by the Municipality of the District of Chester (MODC) for the past 50 years. Spectacle Lake has been identified as the supply for drinking water for the Village of Chester (VOC). MODC budget provisions for purchasing land around the lake to protect this source have ceased.
Ms. Hatch feels the time has come for the VOC to think about the future of the Village and not rely on MODC to get the project done. There are many residents who would like to not have to worry about water availability and she wishes the Commission to recognize the need for a central water system. She pointed out that under the Municipal Government Act (MGA), the Commission has the power and ability to do our own talking and take our own steps to accomplish this task. She asked the Commissioners if they had any questions.
Commissioner Bill Zinck asked if there was infrastructure grants available federally and provincially and suggested we organize ourselves to apply for them. He also suggested speaking with the Clerk of the Village of Pugwash as they have recently gone through the process. He asked if there were any budget numbers discussed by MODC.
Ms. Hatch informed him that in 1967 the figure was $1 million, in 1987, $3.3 million and in 2011, $13 million. She said it seems that MODC has centered on the total cost while leaving out the fact that there would be grants and forgivable loans no doubt available.
The question about how many homes do not have clean drinking water was asked. Ms. Hatch admitted that this is in the very preliminary stages but perhaps MODC may have assessments of wells with good quality and quantity.
Commission Zinck also expressed his concern about how long before the aging sewer lines fail and what plans MODC has about this.
Ms. Hatch pointed out that this is the last year to monitor the quality of the water at Spectacle Lake and she asked the Commission to consider the possibility of banding together with the residents of VOC in planning for the future to ensure the Village thrives again. She pointed out this could be the first step towards being viewed as a recognized level of government by rate payers.
Commissioner Heisler expressed his agreement that this is something that is of concern.
Chair Cambria referred to a quote from Warden Webber in the Progress Enterprise. The Warden wished to see a demonstration of public will before proceeding.
Chair Cambria asked Ms. Hatch if she was representing any particular group. She replied that she was representing VOCTADA as well as herself and other interested ones. The group is in the process of collaborating and gathering information and support for the process.
Chair Cambria said he would like to see more concrete support. Quoting from the May 19 minutes, the Director of Engineering and Public Works was instructed to provide the full cost recovery to Councillor Armstrong. Chair Cambria suggested that the Commission should consider writing a letter to Council and ask that the question be answered.
Chair Cambria agreed with Commissioner Zinck’s concern over the aging sewer system and it’s life expectancy. He does not dispute there is a need for a water system for some residents and that there is no guarantee that good wells will be available long term. He said that while the Village does have the option to go it alone, he does not understand why MODC would not do it. In the May 19 meeting the CAO of MODC said they should be prepared to pay 1/3 of the cost. That wrongly suggests that the VOC expects the Municipality to pay. Chair Cambria suggested this should be discussed with Council.
The Clerk reminded the Commission that there is reserves funds that have been set aside for gathering preliminary information on a central water system.
Chair Cambria suggested that the Clerk be instructed at the next COW meeting to contact the Village of Pugwash office and ask how much hands on help is needed to manage central water as well as what residents can expect to pay. There is more than having central water involved, it is about survival of the Village. We need co-operation from MODC.
Ms. Hatch asked the Commission what sort of information they would like brought back and she was asked to determine what interest in a central water system is in the Village. The proposed plan is to spend the next several weeks gathering information. This is a huge project. Commissioner Heisler would like to see fire hydrants somehow tied to the project. Ms. Hatch thanked the Commission. The meeting was adjourned at 8:00 pm.