City of Iqaluit foots almost $1M to cover October water bills

Full rebate comes after municipal water supply contaminated with fuel

Iqalummiut will get a full rebate for their water bill for the month of October after city councillors voted Tuesday evening to provide residents with a rebate. (File photo)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Iqalummiut won’t have to pay their October water bill after city council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to provide a full rebate.

The territorial Department of Health issued a do not drink water advisory on Oct. 12 after finding an underground water tank at the city’s water treatment centre that smelled strongly of fuel. The contamination was confirmed Oct. 15.

Since then, the city has been flushing its water system, bypassing the contaminated tank and distributing potable water along with the territorial government.

The city will lose $965,677 in revenue for the month of October and does not have a guaranteed source of funding to recoup that loss, according to a report by corporate services senior director Alison Drummond.

The city hopes to make up for this lost revenue with an application to the Government of Nunavut’s municipal assistance program.

Coun. Sheila Flaherty asked if the city can provide a rebate until the water emergency is over, not just until the end of October.

Depending on what happens over the course of November, city council can make a decision to provide a one-, two-, three- or four-week rebate at that time, Mayor Kenny Bell said.

“But for now we’ll just do the month that we know we had a problem,” he said.

Couns. John Fawcett and Solomon Awa asked if a rebate will be provided for people who had their water tanks professionally cleaned.

“The city has required and requested that people clean their water tanks and a lot of people have incurred a cost by having companies do this,” Fawcett said.

Amy Elgersma, the city’s chief administrative officer, said cleaning tanks can be done without hiring anybody because it does not require professional equipment.

“The city is not proposing to cover the costs of cleaning water tanks,” Elgersma said, adding they should be cleaned annually anyway.

Coun. Kyle Sheppard agreed with the city’s decision to not pay for water tank cleaning and said he wants questions about covering the cost of the emergency to be put to other governments, such as the Government of Nunavut.

“I hope that, should other costs from our residents arise from this, that other levels of government will help pick up that tab — as opposed to us fronting that cost right now,” Sheppard said.

Fawcett said it is the city’s responsibility to help citizens through this emergency.

“A lot of people can’t even afford [cleaning their tanks annually],” he said. “Maybe some of those people already [cleaned] their tank and this is a second time caused by a problem with city infrastructure.”

He said he wants to see a specific item on a future council agenda that addresses the possibility of the city providing rebates for people who had their tanks professionally cleaned due to the water emergency.

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(12) Comments:

  1. Posted by nos on

    They will recover the loss of this money by raising the cost of water as soon as they are able to:)

  2. Posted by Duh on

    I mean, thank you but this was to be expected since the city delivered contaminated water. I can’t imagine a world we’re they would change residents for the month. I appreciate the relief but it should not be misconstrued as generosity on behalf of the city and I don’t agree with the tooting their own horn all over Facebook and Twitter.

  3. Posted by Apartment dweller on

    What about those of us who pay for water as part of our rent? The landlords will get the rebate but there’s no obligation to pass it on to the renters who are the ones who were actually affected.
    The city should have made it a condition that landlords only get the rebate if they pass it on to their renters.

    • Posted by Apply for Relief on

      If your landlord (typically Nunavut Housing Corporation for GN employees) is not ensuring that you are a) receiving potable water or b) compensating your because they cannot provide that due to the City’s issues, then you should ask for a rent reduction. When they answer no, because that is what they do for everything, apply to the Residential Tenancy Officer for a rent reduction.

  4. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    Wow, now they have gone a bit too far. People don’t have to hire someone to clean their water tanks?
    Many people are working and paying taxes directly and indirectly to the Hamlet
    They are to take time off to clean their water tanks because the hamlet contaminated it?
    Elders, homeowners, landlords all experienced additional expenses because the hamlet contaminated their water tanks?
    I think not. Get your bloody council members and staff who suggested not to reimburse them to go out and climb in, Hope no one gets stuck (hint hint).

    What a really stupid decision based upon stupid advice from allegedly intelligent people.

    Oh btw are pool access prices going up because the hamlet contaminated the pool water?

    Kenny get a grip of these idiots.

  5. Posted by Poor Me on

    Time to get real.
    It’s time to replace the so-called water bill with what it really is. It’s a city operations tax. It pays for the cost of operating the Iqaluit infrastructure.
    One way or another, everyone who lives in Iqaluit contributes to paying for the cost of City operations.
    The “water bill” pays for snow removal, garbage collection, operation of the water and sewage plants, recreation facilities, graveyards, playgrounds, road repair, and lots more.
    It’s pretty much the same in the other Nunavut communities.
    A portion of these costs must be subsidized, because of the economic reality of Nunavut.
    Unless you are on truck service, the cost of delivering water to where you live has no relation to how much water your family uses each month.
    The monthly, usage-based bill needs to be replaced by something closer to reality.
    The city of Iqaluit intends to give a “break” to its wealthiest residents. But it needs to get the $1 million from somewhere to pay its bills. It also needs to get additional money to payy all the extra costs associated with this fuel-in-water situation.
    To all those who want their water rebate, how do you propose to cover the cost of City operations and the costs of cleaning up this mess?
    Do you propose we all move elsewhere and just leave the mess where it is? Like was done previously…

    • Posted by Poor you on

      Unfortunately you have no understanding of the City finances and should take time to ready the publically available financial statements.

      The city has a separate water and sewer fund. This means that the money received for water bills are allocated against these expenses and aren’t applied to other departments like garbage, snow removal, or playgrounds as you mentioned.

      Any surplus or deficit in that fund is kept within that fund.

  6. Posted by Brenda on

    Home owners will flip the bill I’m sure. Who voted Trudeau. Where is he now?

  7. Posted by River Rat on

    When the ledge sits again with George as Premier, we can count on the GN to address this situation properly. He knows about home ownership, water issues and the health file better than most.

    • Posted by Scapegoat on

      Mayor bell would say otherwise… but we all know Hicks is a threat to his ego and a scapegoat

  8. Posted by Budget speaks & city exaggerates on

    The actual budget for 2021 shows water & sewer annual revenue of $10,252,500 and gov’t subsidy revenue of $1,257,900. The city will not loose the subsidy therefore the estimated revenue loss is only around $850,000. Please explain where the $1 million loss revenue plays into this picture? You’re also drawing from the funds available under the “State of Emergency” that was announced. So tell me again, what hat did you draw this number from?

    • Posted by Hat of tricks on

      It’s the hat of tricks. Whenever someone asks a question, the mayor simply pulls a random answer out of it.

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