Councillor urges colleagues not to pull plug on Kingsport water project
It would take only one more petition with a favourable response to meet the municipality’s requirements for the project to proceed and the necessary level of support could be in hand already.
Kings County councillor Jim Taylor, who represents the Kingsport area, made a presentation to his colleagues at the Tuesday, May 19 committee of the whole session about the proposed $2.2 million Kingsport central water project.
He said the municipality requires a favourable response from 40 per cent of the affected residents for the project to proceed. The number of properties involved was initially in excess of 200, but this was reduced to 181. That means that the county needs 72 favourable responses to the current petition to meet the requirement. Taylor said, at his last count, there were 71. “That is extremely close,” he said.
Saltwater intrusion from the Minas Basin is a problem plaguing several private wells in Kingsport. Taylor said the request for municipal water has generated a bit of a rift in the community and some of this might be due to the nature of the survey itself. “In many cases, the ‘no’ votes could be misinterpreted,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re against it.”
Entitled to clean, safe water
Some residents are choosing not to take advantage of the opportunity while others have good well water now and others can’t afford the hook-up costs. However, many residents are willing to make a significant investment and Taylor pointed out that people are entitled to clean, safe water.
He said six or seven of the 181 properties are still in question and he drew attention to the fact that at least a few of those properties wouldn’t be applicable anyhow. For example, one lot is a playground and one is under water at high tide. Obviously, he said, the water project wouldn’t apply to these properties.
The community owns the land the Kingsport canteen is on and the county owns the canteen. Taylor said it would be possible for the municipality to fill out the survey and apply for water for the canteen. If you take only a few properties away, that would give more than the required 40 per cent support. Another issue is it’s difficult to contact several seasonal residents. He asked if time could be allowed for staff to make contact with the seasonal property owners because he understands that several are interested in the water.
The community has agreed to pay the municipality back federal gas tax funding used for the project. If the lowest bid tendered for the project is less than $2.2 million, Taylor said this would perhaps soften the financial blow to residents.
Proceed or not?
Taylor said council should make a decision on whether the project proceeds by the June 2 regular monthly meeting. He moved to have staff consider the recommendations he made in order to come to the June council meeting with a recommendation for council to proceed or not with the initiative. The motion carried. “This is an opportunity to show the public we’re willing to work with the public, not against them,” he said. “It’s an important project.”
Taylor said that, hopefully, once the community and municipality get beyond the water issue, attention could be turned to the next serious issue in Kingsport; central sewer service.
Councillor Dick Killam said water is very important and good water doesn’t hurt real estate values. Many residents in the community need the municipal water supply and he said it’s important to think long-term.
Councillor Eric Smith, who works in the area, said there does seem to be a division in the community when it comes to the water project, but it is important and badly needed.
Councillor Basil Hall said that by simply disqualifying the property that’s under water at high tide, “you’d have the numbers to move the project ahead.”