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Village delays decision on water hauling
Contractor 'disappointed' at drafted policy, councillors return policy to committee for further discussion

April Hudson
Northern News Services
Thursday, August 6, 2015

Fort Simpson village council members have agreed to delay a policy on out-of-town water hauling one more time.

NNSL photo/graphic

Kirby Groat, president of the Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce, told village council on Aug. 4 that the business community has the best interests of Fort Simpson at heart and is trying to maximize the money flowing into the community, in regard to commercial water sold to out-of-town customers. - April Hudson/NNSL photo

During a regular council meeting on Aug. 4, councillors reviewed a draft policy to promote the use of local bulk water distributors for customers living outside municipal boundaries.

The policy came as the village's answer to a complaint from Pat Rowe of P.R. Contracting, who took issue with the village allowing Rohl Enterprises - a visiting contractor from Manitoba working on the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link (MVFL)- to obtain water directly from village reservoirs.

In particular, the policy makes clear that the village reserves the right to sell bulk water to whom it sees fit and will sell water to customers who can receive top-loading tanks on a water truck or trailer.

The policy would require all water trucks and trailers to be "clean and sanitary" when they hook up to the water treatment plant and would require out-of-town commercial and industrial customers needing water to open an account with the village and put down a $2,000 deposit.

The policy also notes that no keys will be distributed to customers requiring access to the water treatment plant to purchase bulk water for out-of-town use.

Deputy mayor Stella Nadia and Coun. Robert Hanna both said a caveat needs to be made to allow P.R. Contracting to retain a key before the policy is finalized.

"(Rowe) has to have a key there, unless we're going to man the treatment plant 24-7," Hanna said.

Coun. Tom Wilson agreed, arguing Rowe is the only one who should have a key.

"Anyone else accessing bulk water should be doing so during business hours and won't need a key," he said.

Councillors voted all in favour of tabling the policy so they could reword it.

After the meeting, Rowe said he was disappointed at the delay but was glad the policy was not passed in its original form.

He said despite the fact he was the one who brought the original complaint forward, the village had not sought his input on the policy, which would directly affect his business.

"I know it can be hard for councillors to go through everything and come to a decision," he said.

"They say they are doing things for contractors, so why would they not approach a contractor of 42 years?"

Rowe also said the policy point requiring clean and sanitary trucks is too vague and could lead to a number of dangerous health issues and possible contamination. Further, he said if the water was contaminated, there would be no way of telling who was responsible.

"What exactly does clean and sanitary mean? (The village) talks about liabilities, but they aren't thinking about potable water," he said.

"You should have a certified truck to take (water) out of the plant."

Chamber of Commerce president Kirby Groat appeared before council to speak on the issue as well and also submitted a letter to the village.

In that letter, Groat said concerns about commercial water rates have been brought forward by a number of the Chamber's members.

"We understand that Rohl is accessing water through a new metered location that was set up especially for them by the village and that Rohl is not using the local company that provides water hauling services," Groat wrote.

"The MVFL is an $82-million infrastructure project that will only be in the construction phase in Fort Simpson and the Deh Cho for a short time. It is the Chamber's view that the village should be promoting the use of local businesses whenever possible in relation to this project so that the local economic benefit is maximized."

Councillors will have another opportunity to discuss the policy during the next committee of the whole meeting, currently scheduled for Aug. 10 at 7:30 p.m.

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