Somethings been rolling about in my head, growing in size, like a dust bunny since Tuesday night.
The Treasurer referred to legislative requirements that add to cost of water. The requirements are not new. They have been in effect for several years.
The Mayor, presumably in support of an increase in rates, said ;
"water is the best bargain we have"
The treasurer referred to the Walkerton scandal that left seven people dead and hundreds with lasting damage.
"Municipal Councils are now personally responsible for water safety" he said.
What irony ?
The Harris government, in a drive for economy, disbanded Ontario Water Resources Commission. It was a watchdog agency and a resource to municipalities all over the province, to guarantee safe water.
Walkerton, with shallow wells. surrounded by fields drenched regularly with pure, unadulterated manure and fertilisers and other chemicals peculiar to the "natural " environment, hired two guys without competence, to ensure purity of the town's drinking water.
One of them, who wept on the witness stand , went to jail for causing the deaths of seven residents.
No-one responsible for giving him the responsibility, suffered any consequences whatsoever for dereliction of duty resulting in death.
Now,after that fact, municipal councils are personally responsible for the safety of drinking water.
The Ontario Water Resources Commission has not been restored.
In Aurora, our wells are hundreds of feet deep. Water being drawn to the surface has been carbon dated and determined to be thousands of years in the ground and is as cold and crystal pure as could be, having filtered through layers of natural purifiers for hundreds of years.
We are now required to add to it multiple chemicals to remove such contaminants as surround the shallow aquifer of the Town of Walkerton.
According to our experts. that is reason to justify the rate increase for water . That makes water a bargain.
I don't think so.
Part of the rational for the last increase was a change in estimate of water loss from 8% to 12%. When I asked for figures to support the estimate, they were refused.
The reason? I might twist them.
Firefighters refill tankers from hydrants after fighting a fire. A tanker is built to be driven with a full tank. Hydrants are not metered.
Parks are irrigated in hot dry weather from sources without meters.
Childrens' water parks are spilling out clean water in hundreds of thousands of gallons in the summer. The source is not metered.
No records can be kept. No accurate estimates made. Charges cannot be made against a town department budget.
Is that where the increased water loss estimates come from?
If water used for town services which should be charged against taxes, are rolled in to increase rates charged to consumers for water, does that mean residential and commercial users are charged for water they did not use?
I think so.
I think consumers are being misled into believing they pay only for water they use.
If I do not have the authority to issue that challenge on behalf of the consumer, who the hell does?
Is it my job to sit comfortably in that chair in the council chamber, feeling puffed up with my own importance and pretend everything is as it ought to be, when I do not believe it is?
This is not rocket science. I get angry when I think somebody else thinks I'm not smart enough to recognise the game being played. I have a hard time staying calm in the face of it. I am not there to play nice while being taken for a fool .
On Tuesday night, my reaction was strong. I make no apology. The anger was righteous.
Afterward, Councillor Thompson took it upon himself to proffer assurance of his confidence in a job well done.
The Mayor said. "Water is the best bargain we have"
Last year's increase in water rates was 12%. This year's was 10%. In two years , the increase is 24%.
It passed on Tuesday without further ado.
That's how Topsy grows.