The Meter Has Run Out!

“The meter has run out”.  A message delivered by an angel from my LORD?  A dream I had?  A statement from my physician, delivering test results?  

Surprise!  A message from the Village of Morrin administration!

It referenced my requests for information regarding questions; access to minutes, audited financial statement, meeting agenda items and Morrin village infrastructure.  

Does the Municipal Government Act regulate a limit to questions and responses, in the quest for information, a ratepayer can expect?

I did not request information related to anyone else’s property before administration informed me, ‘as I was no longer on council, responses from administration would only be specifically regarding my personal property’.  

Interestingly, that was administration’s position, for the most part, when I WAS on Council!  Deja Vu!

As mayor, I had requested the results of the 2nd Avenue North sewer lateral camera project which was initiated to determine the integrity of the laterals (resolution passed by Morrin council, December, 2019).  

It was noted in a sewer blockage experienced by a property owner that the sewer laterals and water lines (which apparently date to the 1950’s) had not been replaced when the main was replaced in 2011.  

I made this request of administration in October 2020 at which time I was not supplied the complete report (despite a second request for the ‘complete’ report).

The minutes of the January 2021 Morrin council meeting stated that four properties on 2nd Avenue North were determined to have problems and will be repaired in 2021.

Subsequently, as a property owner, I requested the results of the project as it involves the village infrastructure.  

As that was not forthcoming, I requested the results of our property. (Note: there is curbside access to the village lateral so no advantage is gained by us in learning the integrity of our personal sewer infrastructure).  

I was informed a $50 fee would be required.  

When I questioned this document fee (policy does not allow for $50 – only $25), I was informed that a video is not a document, therefore the $25 does not apply.  

[FYI – the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a document “as something (such as a photograph or a recording) that serves as evidence or proof”].  

Administration then informed me that I, as mayor, contravened the Pecuniary Interest section of the Municipal Government Act by proposing a motion to have the integrity of the 2nd Avenue North sewer laterals determined as I am a property owner on said Avenue.  

If that is indeed the case, I apologize for my lack of knowledge.  It was not my intent to have the whole avenue surveyed so I could personally get a “free camera video”!  (Note: the administration in service with the village for some 38 years did not bring the possibility of pecuniary interest to council’s attention during the discussion prior to the passing of the resolution.  

As well as myself, the ex-councillor is on the same avenue. 

March 19, 2021 administration advised me that the results of the camera of the village sewer lateral from our property indicated the line was full of water and an obstruction was encountered 26 feet from the village boundary to the village main and could not go further.  

This information was made available to administration September, 2020.  

Public Works had reported problems with “ALL but one” property on 2nd Avenue North.  

Are we expected to wait until sewage is in our basement to know an “obstruction was encountered”?

As per the Village Policy regarding sewer problems, I submitted my request (March 23 & 29, 2021) for approval for me to engage a technician to check our lateral.  

To date, I have not heard back from administration.  

Quote from a letter received from the Official Administrator for the Village of Morrin,  Mr. Johnsrude (March 19, 2021): “In conclusion, future requests for information by you will be filed accordingly but a response may not be forthcoming.  

“My records indicate four letters from you since January to either myself or to the CAO with some of them quite lengthy.  

“The meter has run out,” concluded the letter.


Howard Helton,

 Morrin, Alta.

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