Getting water to the top of the island
“It’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be cheap”, says Warden Morrison of proposed District 8 water projects
The County has given two presentations for residents in the Bay St. Lawrence and Cape North communities on proposed water utility projects for the communities over the past two weeks. The public works committee held the first meeting on July 19 at the Bay St. Lawrence fire hall. The presentation gave residents a rough idea on costs and the layout for a new water supply system that would include a new treatment plant, storage tank and distribution piping. The committee and residents discussed how some folks in the area do not have access to any water, some have their own functioning well and others have a well that freezes during the winter time.
The estimated cost for the project is $4.1 million. If federal and provincial funding can be secured, residents would be responsible for $1.36 million. The pricetag is catching some residents off guard.
“I’m very surprised that we have to pay for our own capital costs,” said Patsy Mackinnon about the Bay St. Lawrence water utility project.
Council has said the costs must be covered by residents to prevent the current $2 million water utility deficit from growing any further. The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board said the County is not allowed to run into further deficit with its water utility. The deficit comes from previous installation projects in which an insufficient number of residents hooked onto the system.
If the project were to move forward, the costs would be shouldered by all area residents, whether they use the line or continue to use their own wells. Along with the initial project costs, residents would also be responsible for a $1000 hook-up fee to the water line, quarterly-billed usage fees and any maintenance costs for the water system.
The July 19 meeting explained the process the committee performed to find the water source for the system. After test wells
were dug, Public Works Director Robert Dauphinee said that a well on Money Point road showed a good quantity and quality supply of water for the estimated 120 serviceable units.
The committee plans to have a second meeting in September in hopes of having more residents come out. Prior to the next meeting, Council wants to send out information to residents in Bay St. Lawrence that will be affected by this project. Only three people, including Mackinnon, were present for the presentation. The committee also proposed holdinga plebiscite to see if there are enough residents interested in the service.
Municipal Council held another meeting the following week on July 24 in Cape North. Dauphinee gave a presentation to residents on an estimated $1.1 million expansion of the existing water utility lines from the Dingwall area. Once again, Council is looking at securing federal and provincial funding for the project.
Conditions of the Cape North project will be the same as those for the Bay St. Lawrence project, with residents having to cover the capital costs along with their usage bills, hook-up fee and maintenance costs.
At the meeting, Dauphinee said that the existing water system in Dingwall is sufficient for extension up the Cabot Trail to Cape North. While some residents in the area have wells, like those in Bay St. Lawrence, they have voiced concerns about reliable water sources.
“It’s critical that we have water,” said Cape North resident Peter Sauer.
Sauer is also a local business owner in the Cape North area. His family owns and operates Highlands Hostel in the Cape North community.
“We don’t know if there’s a want yet, but we do know there is a need,” said Victoria County CAO Leanne Maceachen about the utility projects at the July 24 Council meeting in Cape North. Since Council would require residents to pay for the capital costs, they are looking into how many residents want the projects to go forward. This has led to discussions at both meetings of having a plebiscite and secondary meetings.
“…I will go to each individual home prior to our meeting in September to go get a count [of interested residents] and I can bring that information back to Council,” District 8 Councillor Norm Macdonald, home to both communities, said at the July 24 council meeting.
Warden Morrison has said that the discussions with the communities are preliminary to find out if there is interest in proceeding with the projects. There is currently no date set for secondary meetings for either community.
Four seasonal staff at Salty Rose’s and The Periwinkle Café in Ingonish live in three trailers located behind the newly-shingled building. Two of the trailers are privately owned by staff who made the investment given the cost of renting accommodation. The other is rented to staff by the property owner. Photo by Sarabeth Drover.