Residents of 38th Street, including senior citizens on a fixed income, are being overcharged for sewer and water by their own municipality.
The first problem was that the town officials would not tell them what they were paying for. The local improvement bylaw stated a water main upgrade, including fire hydrants. We knew there were two fire hydrants installed but the cost charged was $118,650 — that would be $59,325 per hydrant. The cost should be about $10,000 per hydrant. The town tried to conceal what the other $88,000. was for. They did eventually provide us with a blank tender form, I believe thinking that would not tell us anything.
However, the tender form did reveal that there were four water connections installed, obviously for future development but charged to the residents on 38th street. The Municipal Government Act is very clear that the benefiting property owners should pay for the local improvement. The following four water connections are clearly not for the benefit of the residents on 38th Street.
• A T connection was installed on 38th Street with a stub line going east on 46th Avenue. A cross connection was installed on the corner of 38th Street and 40th Avenue with a stub line going south and one going east. There is no doubt these connections are for the benefit of future land development south and east and should not be charged to 38th Street residents.
• On the undeveloped 42nd Avenue going west from 38th Street, the town installed two T connections. One appears to be for looping the 39th Street waterline to 38th Street however, when 39th Street residents installed their waterline on 39th in 1999, they paid the town for looping this waterline and at least two residents still have the paperwork to prove it. The looping was not done in 1999 and it was not done this time either, the two connections and short stub lines were installed but the line was not looped. What the second T connection on 42 Avenue is for, we don’t know.
Through a FOIP request we obtained the total cost of these four waterline connections, $76,278 including engineering. We checked with a private local developer who installed the same waterlines in the same year 2008, their cost worked out to $26,510, about one-third of the cost the town charged 38th Street residents. Not only is the town charging for something these residents should not be paying for; they are gouging them on top of it.
This covers only the four water connections, there is much more. The estimated cost of this project was $195,000 when the residents agreed to it, however the final cost ballooned to $448,027.
There is a need for a taxpayers’ group in town to support and assist people who are being treated unfairly by Ponoka town council and administration. We propose a meeting at the Ponoka Count Office, Wednesday Aug. 18, at 7 p.m.
The purpose of this meeting will be to provide information and discuss issues such as 38th Street, the town’s proposed annexation and the gymnastic facility. We invite concerned residents of the town or county, with a special invitation to the mayor and town councillors.
It will also be an opportunity to try to get good candidates for the upcoming civic election this fall.