Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Time to move on, for now

Much of last night's meeting regarding the WUC rate hike isn't even worth commenting on at this point. Interesting to note, now the 1000 homes has gone to 156. Last week the official word from the WUC, as quoted in the Star, was that it might even exceed 1000. Nothing like consistency.

I will note one thing. If the Mayor and Councillor Lewenza want to continually accuse people of "misrepresentation of the facts" they need to join hands, walk to the biggest mirror they can find and take a good hard long look.

Since this issue began one of the biggest reasons for the so called "misrepresentations" is the complete and utter failure on the part of the Mayor, Councillor Lewenza and the WUC to present information in a clear and consistent manner. I won't bother linking to all the posts, you can search through the blog, but hardly a day has gone buy when some information related to the WUC rate hike has not changed. That 22 page information brochure from WUC is as clear as mud. The average citizen reading that wouldn't know up from down.

I'm looking forward to the release of the J.N. Watson report in hard copy. The presentation went by rather quickly when watching on TV (and working at the same time). There are several questions I have related to that report, one of them regarding the development charges.

I remain absolutely unconvinced that we can't move most if not all of the costs included in the "water rate" portion of the bill from the fixed charge to the actual water rate. I realize that this would not be accomplished overnight, but it should be possible to phase in over a 5 to 10 year period. The system should become User Pay. There would certainly be adjustments in the beginning but eventually the rate of conservation would plateau. I find it extremely difficult to believe so many other municipalities in Ontario have it wrong, and Windsor is the only one that has it right.

If we are conducting long term planning it only makes sense to encourage conservation. As growth continues, it would be far cheaper to manage our supply through conservation instead of building new plants. If, for example, we have sufficient capacity for the next 20 years, aggressive conservation could likely extend that capacity another 5 or 10 years.

I think it would also be interesting to find other municipalities that sell water to their neighbouring municipalities and what the prices are.

Councillor Dilkens made an excellent point when discussing the motion to call in the Auditor-General - " “When was information available that the system needed to be upgraded? Who acted or didn’t act?" Certainly important questions. How many people would have approved of the $65 million dollar arena in October if they had of known what we were facing this year? I suspect we would either be building at the raceway right now, or re-examining the downtown site. How about the over $2 million spent for a city owned restaurant on the Riverfront? How many Councillors would still be sitting in their seats today if this discussion was occurring last October and November - you know - right before everyone voted.

Lots of questions remain and I look forward to the Auditor-General's report.

PS - for Councillor Lewenza - here's a link to the Walkerton Report. I tried to find an example of someone watering their lawn with bottled water but apparently Paris Hilton doesn't do yard work.

Update: seems I misunderstood the Mayor's motion last night. I thought he was moving the motion simply to grab the spotlight. Apparently the Auditor General is not investigating, it the auditors from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. More on this at Windsor City Blog and Alan Halberstadt.com