Tbnewswatch Local News
Monday July 6 2015
11:41 AM EDT
2014-05-13 at 11:54

Liability concerns: council ends rural water delivery services

FILE -- Coun. Trevor Giertuga wanted the city to continue its water delivery service to rural residents.
FILE -- Coun. Trevor Giertuga wanted the city to continue its water delivery service to rural residents.
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- The city is getting out of water delivery over liability fears.

For more than 25 years the city has been delivering water to some rural residents living within city limits.

When wells run dry or development changes water tables, people can have 4,000 litres delivered to their home for about $55. Around 120 homes used the service last year. During droughts that number has been as high as 900.

Council voted to end the service Monday as of July but not before McIntyre ward Coun. Trevor Giertuga and mayor Keith Hobbs fought to keep the service, saying water is a basic human right.

Giertuga said the city has done its due diligence for years and would continue to do so.

While councillors could be personally liable for water under the province's Safe Drinking Water Act, that law has already been in place for more than a year without issue.

"This is fear mongering at its finest," he said.

Hobbs said liability isn't as much of a concern to him as making sure citizens have water.

"We've been in this business a long time and there's never been an issue of contamination,” he said.

But keeping the service would mean a new bylaw, including home inspections and water sampling city lawyer Nadia Koltun said. That would cost the city $400,000 in one-time capital costs and up to $205,000 a year to operate. 

Coun. Mark Bentz said the risk was too great for the city to keep the service. Council needs to look out for everyone, not just the people who use the service.

"I can’t in good conscience put that amount of liability on the taxpayers we’re here to protect all citizens,” he said.

A report will come to council next year and a rebate will be given to those who use the service over the next three years to offset costs for using a private service.



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sawmillsteve says:
So my city taxes should be lowered to reflect the fact that I provide my own water to my house??
Is this not a reasonable conclusion?
5/16/2014 9:48:39 PM
The Beaver..... says:
Reply to this comment.

Plus also going back to the city supplying White Water with our water to which is in Oliver/ Paipoonge.
Livewire the City Water main was and is at the end of Broadway Ave. Whitewater owns the the Infrastructure from that point on. The Residents of Whitewater pay 1.5 times the water rate in the City.. to the City. Water for the Golf course is taken from the Kam River
5/14/2014 11:04:00 AM
dockboy says:
Liability concerns seem to be scaring the hell out of city council. First it was the fix-it club at the 55 plus centre, now it's no water delivery to rural homes. Unfortunately, this is the way the world runs these days,extreme caution.
5/14/2014 8:58:30 AM
Freedom123 says:
Totally agree with the City dumping the water delivery. I Live in a rual area and when I built there I totally accepted the resposiblity of some day having no water. Guess what, MY PROBLEM. This is like the problem that people have with the Gun range on Pento road. IT was there before you built/ bought, LIVE with that fact or MOVE
5/14/2014 12:33:48 AM
Baor says:
For the love of pete. There are thousands more who live outside city limits who must be laughing their bums off. I see trucks all over the area hauling water. Why are the city rural dwellers so hard done by compared to others with wells? Dig/drill deeper or hire someone, or move.
You bought the place.....with a well....which can go dry. So did someone in South Gillies or Gorham and they don't seem to be in crises.
5/14/2014 12:03:59 AM
SomeGuy says:
This seems like a very good deal. Revenue of $6,600 cost of $205,000.
5/13/2014 7:16:35 PM
analyst1 says:
If you want to ensure your right to water, then move to an area that is connected to the municiple water supply. OR, drill a deeper well. OR, put in a holding tank. Giertuga is doing the fear mongering that people will be without water. The city did not sell you that building lot and nobody forced you to live there. You CHOSE to live there. The city of Thunder Bay DOES NOT owe anyone water service just because they are within city limits.
5/13/2014 6:33:37 PM
S Duncan says:
In theory I agree with you however..

those lots are in the city. That means the city issued building permits and signed off on them before residency took place.

When the city happily signed off/completed those building permits, they began charging taxes based on a dwelling and no longer a vacant lot.

They happily then collected those taxes without actually investing in their city the way they are supposed to with tax dollars. That doesn't mean building hockey rinks for the managers friends, it means laying pipes and maintaining them.

If the city cant provide services for propertys it collects taxes for that is city mismanagement.

I feel for those people because the city has been ripping them off. Sure they gave them water at a cut rate, but those people paid taxes and we did too. We paid to have water delivered to them while the city mis used our tax dollars yet again.

I see a potential law suit here. This city management needs to smarten up big time!
5/13/2014 11:16:38 PM
conker2012 says:
Yes the taxes on these lots are collected, but they are not paying for services they are not receiving. MPAC assessments for two identical homes next to each other where one has municipal sewer and water while the other is on well and septic will have different assessed values. Municipal services are given a certain value that is added to the value of a home. So the rate may be the same but the MPAC assessment will be lower for a home on a well and septic.

Yes water is a right, but it doesn't mean that it has to be delivered to your house.

Do some research
5/14/2014 11:16:30 AM
S Duncan says:
conker says..

"Yes water is a right, but it doesn't mean that it has to be delivered to your house.

Do some research"

Go read the very first sentence of my first comment on this subject.

Do some reading.
5/15/2014 8:42:13 AM
localboy says:
I completely agree! Where's the infrastructure?
5/14/2014 11:36:34 AM
Swirly-Q says:
I can't believe I'm defending the city's development department but your ignorance is forcing me to.

A building permit does not entitle anyone to municipal water service. If city water lines are not available to a particular property the builder must provide proof of alternative adequate water supply at the time of their permit application.

The people without city water knew what they were getting into when they built/bought. It's an unfortunate situation but the city has no obligation to provide them with water.

5/14/2014 11:44:34 AM
unheard says:
This council needs a code of conduct implemented
has become a council for the corporation of thunder bay
instead of the people and city
5/13/2014 5:49:04 PM
Watchmaker says:
I bet that a private company couldn't match the city price. The cost of infrastructure, equipment, testing, insurance, etc. would be prohibitive. The city was likely selling water to these people at a loss and a takeover by a private operation would only see costs rise.
5/13/2014 5:47:39 PM
livewire says:
Maybe our Water Bills can come down ! Hobbs, Bentz and Giertuga didn't have a problem voting to raise the water rates but it is basic human right. Plus also going back to the city supplying White Water with our water to which is in Oliver/ Paipoonge.
5/13/2014 5:45:25 PM
Ozone says:
Vote all these clowns out in October. They are more concerned about what boards they sit on to get their honoring that the good off this town.

These are city tax payers that are being affected and Ruberto seems to only care about the cats and dogs living in social housing and the rest about blowing millions on event centers and white elephant monuments all the while our roads, walkways, sewers, buildings in this city crumble or like the water service disappearing. And taxes keep increasing! .
5/13/2014 5:37:59 PM
tbay import says:
I agree to vote these people out, however I think its hilarious that anyone would believe the next set of councilors and mayor would be any different than the ones we have right now.
5/14/2014 6:34:48 AM
smartguy83 says:
I bet you will be finding a way to vote out Hobbs too even though he wanted to keep the service. Council can never be perfect. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
5/14/2014 9:45:07 AM
ring of fire dude says:
Who would want City water when the old Provincial Papers mill is leaking effluent from it's ponds , and Bear Point is only a short distance away ? Clean Water Act ? What a joke !
5/13/2014 4:54:58 PM
drdolittle says:
Do your research before you speak. The Bare Point facility is on the other side of the breakwall. The Superior Fine Papers site isn't leaking effluent from it's lagoons, it currently has 400,000 cubic metres of mercury contaminated sludge sitting on the lake bottom outside the lagoons. That area of the harbour is hydraulically quite isolated from the water intake that is 840 m out from shore and over 10 m deep. Many studies have shown that due to incredibly large dilution factors our drinking water is not significantly at risk from this contamination.
5/14/2014 11:25:39 AM
jonthunder says:
On the one hand, if the city enticed people to such areas without water while supplying well back-up water - the city should have some moral responsibility to continue the service. On the other hand, the city should not encourage expensive urban sprawl for all tax payers by offering such a service. I believe the city is and should be on the hook for this one to existing water customers.
5/13/2014 4:46:25 PM
fastball says:
55 dollars doesn't even pay for the gas used to drive the 4000 liters of water to a rural resident. And approximately 120 households availed themselves of this service last year? That's 6600 dollars. You can't tell me that the city drove water trucks to 120 rural residences and delivered a half-million liters of water - all for 6600 dollars?
5/13/2014 4:20:09 PM
tiredofbull$ says:
Do you even think before you type, you are all for the city building a multiplex that is going to cost all us taxpayers $1.5 million a year in operating costs + our share to build it, for the benefit of a select few people, but are up in arms of the city delivering water. I am not in favor of the city losing money on this water delivery for a select few and I sure am not in favor of the city wasting any money on this multiplex. But I sure would like to hear your explanation on how hockey is more important than water.
5/14/2014 12:11:33 AM
fastball says:
I've re-read my post, and I'm pretty darn sure that I've never said that hockey was more important than water. What I have mentioned in the past, is that we should take a hard look at some of the things we do - and see if there's a better, smarter or more efficient way to do them. I'm wondering if "the way we've always done things" is the only way to go. Does it make ANY financial sense to drive water trucks all over our rural areas...all for 6600 dollars in return? Is there a better, smarter or more efficient way to do this? That's my point.
As for your contention that only a "select few" are the only people in town that will go to the event center? Really? Going to a concert or a hockey game or another event is going to be reserved only for the hoity-toity upper crust? Gimme a break. We all make decisions on what to spend our money on. Don't whine that you can't afford to go to a concert while you're opening another pack of cigarettes in your new pickup with the skidoo in the back.
5/14/2014 11:10:52 AM
mystified says:
You must be just livid paying taxes that go towards the hospital that only the sick or injured use.

5/14/2014 3:12:03 PM
dynamiter says:
Transfer this to the private sector where it belongs . Give out a contract on a bid basis to ensure the service is available and permit loading of city water. Stop the fear mongering and come up with an infrastructure plan to service the densest under vice areas especially where potential infill residences makes sense.
5/13/2014 2:00:07 PM
enos012 says:
Did you people who where complaing about this not ead where they are paying $55 for this water. No I don't know the exact cost for this service but it not free. Maybe increase the price but to cut off all service is unacceptable. Maybe if the water in the city is shut down for a month(for whatever reason) lets see how your view changes....
5/13/2014 1:56:54 PM
realisticone says:
I want to buy the city water trucks. This is going to be a very lucrative business. Nothing like having clients beg for your service. Money won't be an issue.
5/13/2014 1:51:39 PM
Smitty says:
So I guess this means that the city will be cancelling bus service as well. Theres too much liability involved with running buses. There are private taxi services that can fill that need. Why should all tax payers pay the bill for something that a minority of citizens use.
Those arguments are a good enough reason to cancel water delivery.
5/13/2014 1:47:41 PM
BetterThunderBay says:
Makes sense, fewer services come along with the choice to live in a rural area. It is important that water is available, but it doesn't necessarily need to be provided by the city.
5/13/2014 12:46:47 PM
enos012 says:
Wow! Just, wow!
5/13/2014 12:30:35 PM
S Duncan says:
Water is a basic human right, but having it delivered to you on the backs of all taxpayers is not.

This is a perfect opportunity to create jobs/business. A private entrepeneur can start providing this water and the service for a fee that reflects the actual costs involved.

Or the city should have been properly expanding its water supply lines to those who obviously live within the city limits. The city happily collects taxes for these properties but neglects to service the homes like it should be doing.

This is how infrastructure money should be spent, not on free needle and booze programs, or bentz poles at the marina.

So the city needs to get out of the water business and start servicing the lots in the city like it should.
5/13/2014 12:09:19 PM
tsb says:
Water bills are outrageous and you want the water department to spend MORE? It cost us tens of millions to provide adequate water to South Neebing! Are you out of your mind??
5/13/2014 6:50:41 PM
S Duncan says:
I want the city to supply the services its supposed to and stop supplying ones its not supposed to.

City issued and finalized building permits and collect high taxes from these people, and because of that they have an obligation to their citizens/taxpayers.

If the city cant do its job correctly then we need to look at those in charge of it and ask why things like this have not been handled properly and instead money is being given away to people/companys/banks/welfare domes, etc..

I wonder if any of those people were one of the 14 or 15 supporters of the welfare dome? If so, it serves them right.
5/13/2014 11:33:47 PM
Waldo Lydecker says:
Water bills are outrageous but what you are missing is the fact that its the sewer charge part of the bill that has grown severely. Could that be why the city haven't installed water supply lines to these city homes? Could it be because they cant collect on the sewer charges (granted that they have septic systems)The bottom line is the city collects tens of millions of dollars in taxes and it has a responsibility to supply services to those payers. this is purely the fault of the city.
5/14/2014 9:29:48 AM
tiredofit says:
"bentz" poles at the marina, that's AWESOME!
5/14/2014 11:05:53 AM
S Duncan says:
remember who you heard it from.
5/14/2014 4:33:04 PM
localboy says:
Coun. Mark Bentz said the risk was too great for the city to keep the service. "I can’t in good conscience put that amount of liability on the taxpayers we’re here to protect all citizens,” he said.

So rather than provide safe drinking water for citizens, which is a basic human need. We decide to not stop for liability reasons? What is happening in this city??

How can they deny drinking water to TAX PAYING citizens???

What an embarrassment! What are thinking!?!?!
5/13/2014 12:06:08 PM
The Critic says:
We need an events center at any cost.
5/13/2014 3:28:58 PM
yqt says:
How can they deny drinking water to TAX PAYING citizens?

Oh, you mean the tax payer that isn't paying for any pipes underground !! Pay for the pipes, drink all you want.

5/13/2014 7:16:40 PM
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