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Lake of Bays Council denies staff recommendation to charge the public at water supply stations
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Lake of Bays Council denies staff recommendation to charge the public at water supply stations

Posted: 2024-06-06 14:59:59 By: thebay

Lake of Bays Council denied the staff recommendation to charge the public at water supply stations, in the June 4, 2024, meeting.

Superintendent of Parks and Facilities, Scott MacKinnon, recommended that Council approve pay per use water dispensers at its three fire halls - Station 2 Port Cunnington, Station 3 Hillside, and the Lake of Bays Community Centre - despite its history of supplying water to the public since the 1980s.

According to MacKinnon’s report, the current annual water expenses is $6,053. The cost of the water dispensing units would be $16,614.39, plus $1,500,.00 for installation, and $466.20 for monthly fees.

He recommended that the public pay $0.25 per litre, which would come to $4.50 to fill an 18-litre container.

Councillor, Mike Peppard, agreed with the recommendation and indicated he uses one of the sites. He said, “It’s cheaper than a $25,000 well. The water is amazing.” And he inquired about how the recommended system would work.

MacKinnon explained the water would run on a metering system that would accept cash or debit and credit cards. A transaction fee would be included if cards were used.

Councillor, George Anderson, disagreed with the idea. He said, “I do not like to see metered water. I think that when I look at the figures… $6,053 spent through the Township on water… I’m thinking that that’s certainly a low amount of money to provide a service that’s been provided for an awfully long time to our residents and those visiting.” He inquired what the donations are used for.

MacKinnon indicated that in Baysville the donations have been used for items such as a $6,000-$7,000 ATV 4-Wheeler and tracks, $4,000 for two Kodiak water rescue boats, and carpeting and a TV for the training hall.

He added, “It has certainly augmented our fire budget by allowing us to help the fire department purchase items that are required or that we feel are important.”

According to MacKinnon, donations have helped Station 2 purchase a fitness gym, chairs and office furniture, TV, struts, and auto extraction equipment. And Hillside has purchased laptops, TVs, and training equipment with their donations.

MacKinnon said, “It’s not like the money is being used for inappropriate things in my opinion at this time.”

Anderson said, “It really reinforces to me that I would like to leave things the status quo. I think this is a wonderful way of serving the community but also enhancing and supporting our fire department.”

Councillor, Nancy Tapley, said, “It sounds like you’re making more than $6000 a year with all of that stuff… Sounds like you’re getting a lot of donations.”

MacKinnon replied that he didn’t know the financial details, other than Baysville bringing in approximately $2,000 each year.

Councillor, Robert Lacroix, referenced MacKinnon’s report as indicating the three sites bring in an estimated $14,000 per year. He said, “To me the residents are paying their fair share for the money. I don’t personally see why we would take away a service that we’ve given to the public for years.”

He added that it’s valuable to residents to have clean water available as needed. “I don’t see why we would charge them for it. The fire department has been receiving donations go into a lot of their extra things that they need to run the fire department and make their fire stations even better than they are now, without having to come to the taxpayer for extra money.”

Councillor, Rick Brooks, supported the recommendation. He said the cost for the public to pay for the water would be cheaper then at stores. He said, “To me it’s the right thing to do.”

Tapley expressed concerns about interfering with local water supplier businesses. She said, “Are we in the business of undercutting the commercial sector, who, like Muskoka Springs, who make their living…is making and selling water?”

She added, “There are people who need that water. Their cottages don’t have proper filtration systems.”

Council discussed concerns about people abusing the services, such as using the water for flowers and washing their cars, and not donating, and the potential it can have to ruin the service for others.

They agreed to continue providing water without fees, however, will post signs for greater clarity to the public about what the donations are used for, expectations to donate, suggesting a minimum of $2.00 per jug, create a public education plan, allocate money in the budget to upgrade the current systems, and revisit the issue in a year to see whether things are progressing.