Request for massive water bill to be waived

Written by Stu Salkeld

The Clive Community Hall board asked village council to waive a huge water bill at their regular council meeting March 8.

Lori Oatway, president of the Clive Community Hall board, appeared as a delegation to council to discuss the $1,516.74 water bill the non-profit society received for January and February.

 Oatway stated she was alarmed at the large bill which stated 514.5 meters cubed were used by the hall on that bill.

“It was a little bit shocking,” said Oatway to council. The community hall president explained that, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the facility has been restricted or closed for much of the past year, and some of the hall’s recent water bills have shown zero usage.

Oatway requested the village council waive the extra charges as they could see that something was clearly wrong.

Coun. Jeremy Whelan asked if there were outside taps on the community hall that a third party might have used to “borrow” water.

Oatway stated the hall board looked at that and there is no indication that anything was used.

Village Chief Administrative Officer Carla Kenney stated that the village has seen volumes like this before caused by a leaky toilet. 

She confirmed the village staff could find no source for the leak and the leak appears to have disappeared.

The CAO stated the village has never waived charges like this before and doing so could set a precedent.

Coun. Whelan asked if perhaps a pressure valve on the hot water heater was faulty. 

Oatway answered the entire basement was examined and there was no evidence at all of a water leak.

Coun. Susan Russell asked if Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) funds could be used to pay the bill. 

MOST funding has been provided by the provincial government to cover revenue losses or expenses due to the pandemic.

Whelan asked if more investigation needs to be done before council makes a decision on this matter and also suggested replacing the water meter on the community hall regardless.

Kenney responded the village is monitoring the hall to see how much water it’s using. Kenney stated it may never be known what caused the usage but added water meters only turn when water is passing through them.

Coun. Norma Penney agreed with the idea of replacing the meter and stated she had to pay an $800 water bill when unaware a toilet in her home was running while she was away for two weeks.

Councillors passed a motion for village staff to prepare a report for the next council meeting on what options the village has for handling this situation.

 

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.