Opinion

Water works

How can the West Fernie Waterworks District (WFWD) trustees that were appointed by an order in the Provincial Cabinet explain the position they have taken with respect to the taxes and fees they have said will be charged to West Fernie residents, and other tax payers, if those residents agree to the proposed installation of water, sewer and road infrastructure that will serve a far higher population density or, should the residents not agree to the proposal, how will they explain their right to extra charges for the operating cost of maintaining the West Fernie water system in a condition capable of meeting the needs of the present population, when a legal agreement between the City of Fernie and WFWD residents has fixed that cost at the same amount charged to City residents?

That explanation should involve some pretty fancy dancing for a number of reasons. For a start, the City’s authority cannot extend beyond its boundaries except through a legally binding agreement with the community they have extended the service to. And if the agreement is to be re-negotiated all parties are entitled to have competent knowledgeable representation; providing you’re in a democratic country. Since the elected representatives of the WFWD residents are both aligned with the City, the residents are on their own as far as the three branches of government and representation is concerned. However, the Trustees have quoted the 1955 Agreement that deals with the provision of water only at a minimal fee but the City has billed the WFWD residents according to the 1975 Agreement for 37 years. That is a much higher rate than set in the 1955 agreement, so which is it? Is the City only responsible for water supply and has charged the West Fernie residents well over a million dollars more than the 1922 Agreement allows, or have they legally charged them according to the 1975 Agreement and are responsible for all operating costs of the system as per the 1975 Agreement? Since there is both tacit and written evidence that the 1975 Agreement replaced the need for the WFWD to establish a renewal fund under section 751 of the Local Government Act and that gives substance to the 1975 Agreement and whereas overcharging in spite of the provisions of the 1955 Agreement might be considered fraudulent, it seems the trustees have something of a “Hobson’s Choice.” The designed capacity of the WFWD system was 160 homes.

Has anyone revealed the proposed capacity of the water system or sewer to be installed?

Has anyone noticed that by cleverly giving the RDEK responsibility for the WFWD the three forms of government are evading the boundaries to the City’s authority?

Please get the 55’s and the 75’s in the right places.

 

Peter Ross

Creston, BC

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