A full third of Fort Simpson’s population has to pay a private company for sewer services. Some village councillors say effort should be made to make the system more fair.
In a discussion that began during a council meeting last week, a “long-standing” issue in the village was brought up once again: who pays for water and sewer services, and how much.
“There’s a system in place [off-island], but it’s a privatized system, and people have to pay extra for it,” said Fort Simpson’s mayor, Sean Whelly. “And the argument that’s being made by a couple of councillors is that we should equalize this so that everybody is paying the same.”
In most jurisdictions, water and sewer fees are covered by annual property taxes for both commercial and residential properties. While the village still offers water for all residents, those living in Wild Rose and Nogha Heights have to pay to get that water pumped back out.
“As a municipal government, we are responsible for water and sewer services,” said Whelly. “We get subsidies from Maca each year to cover that. But sewers are being taken care of [off-island] by Rowe’s Construction, a private company.
“We’re not looking to take over sewers or anything like that, we just want to make sure people aren’t paying extra if they live off-island… it is a move to equalize the cost of water and sewer for all residents.”
In a meeting on Thursday, a recommendation was made by the village’s committee of the whole to double the sewer pump-out rebates from $500 to $1,000 for the 2022 calendar year. The goal is to lessen the strain on families that may require more frequent sewer pump-outs.
A resolution for that change will be brought to the next village council meeting on Monday night.