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Recently I saw some discussion on social media regarding the fixed water charges in the County of Brant and the feeling that they are relatively high compared to other communities. People understandably wonder why that is quite often and how this has been the historical norm here in the County of Brant.

Because this gets asked quite often (I asked this myself before I came onto council this term) I would like to use the blog this month to provide some information about this particular issue.

Every water system has its own unique issues that drive costs. They include the operational requirements, age of infrastructure, system design, number and makeup of customers (residential and industrial/commercial).

Comparing water rates in Brantford and Brant is not realistic since Brantford has a surface water supply, one treatment plant and a distribution system with a relatively dense population served.  They also received a very large federal grant to build their water treatment plant without having to pass those hard costs onto the taxpayer over the course of years.

On the other hand Brant has a mainly groundwater system with numerous wells and a number of water treatment plants and a water distribution system with fewer customers per kilometre of water main.

This is the main reason for the fixed cost being what they are. We don’t have a single and central system and can’t have one because of the spread out nature of the community and the need to serve folks in those distant areas.

No profit is made from the charges and if there is any surplus it’s put back into the system – it is not a case of gouging customers and using monies raised from this fee to fill the County coffers.

One area of debate that we are currently having on council is if we should move to a fee system that is better set up to reward conservation.  This would mean lowering fixed cost but increasing usage costs. I get the sense many would be for this and many against. I lean towards setting up a system where conservation is rewarded. 

A rate study will be done again this year to see what the proper rate should be for fixed and usage costs. There will be opportunities I am told for public input in that process.  However it must be said that one of the most important responsibilities of a municipality is to ensure access to and the safety of water.  While our system as it has had to be created to deal with the geography of our county doesn’t allow for one treatment centre or even one type of water system I will never be in favour of cutting costs to water safety and treatment.  Walkerton and other water crises like it are only prevented by being vigilant and investing what is required to maintain a high safety and quality standard.

I’ll put some photos below with current rate information as well as the contact information for the department if anyone has more technical questions or wants a copy of the 41 page water financial plan that we must adhere to legally.

You can get that at the Water Division at publicworks@brant.ca, or 519-449-2451 or 1-888-250-2295.

A highlight of some of the activities I’ve attended this month beyond regular council meetings:

  • Scroll Presentation at Your Neighbourhood Credit Union Paris Branch for retirement celebration.
  • Brant Pride Committee Meet and Greet/Founding Meeting
  • Kids Can Fly/Dolly Parton Imagination Library $20,000 cheque presentation
  • Let’s Read 2020 Kick-Off event presented by the County Library System and the Family Literacy Committee of Brant
  • The Paris Friends of the Library Fundraising Ceilidh
  • Meeting at the Seniors’ Resource Centre to discuss County service options and partnership
  • Live regional television appearance for Kickback – program designed to help connect people with mental health information and resources on a day known as the “saddest day of the year” based on suicide and hospitalization statistics.
  • Paris Flood Risk Mitigation Municipal Class Environmental Assessment Public Information Centre
  • Brant Mental Health Solutions 1 year anniversary celebration
  • Joint Animal Control Task Force final meeting
  • Annual Mayor’s Levee
  • Meeting
  • Chamber of Commerce Test Call for distance reports
  • Meeting with staff regarding accessibility enhancements in the County
  • Meeting with staff regarding accommodation for resident impacted by provincial growth plan
  • Meeting with staff regarding communication enhancements for the County
  • 5 resident meetings
  • 4H Awards Banquet celebrating local youth