Iqaluit getting soaked on unpaid water bills, mayor says

Residents collectively owe more than $2.4M, with some individuals more than $10k in debt

The City of Iqaluit will create a plan to collect unpaid water bills, and that proposal will be discussed at the next finance committee meeting. (File Photo)

By David Lochead

The City of Iqaluit will move forward on a plan to more aggressively collect debt on unpaid water bills, after a motion by Mayor Kenny Bell was approved by council on Tuesday.

A process for collecting unpaid water bills will be created by city staff and put forward at the next finance committee of the whole meeting, set for Nov. 3.

Nearly $2.4 million in unpaid water bills is owed to the city, Bell said in council.

“The city needs this money for functioning,” he said.

“We need it for paving our roads, maintaining our water system and maintaining our sewage system.”

He told Nunatsiaq News that this has been a problem since he became a councillor in 2012.

Approximately 230 people owe more than $500 each for at least three months of unpaid water bills, while approximately 50 people owe more than $10,000 for at least three months of unpaid water bills.

Those who owe money have been contacted by city staff monthly, yet the city has made little to no progress in recouping the debts, Bell said.

It’s a significant amount of money for the city, he said, noting it’s about equal to just over half the yearly cost to operate the Aquatic Centre.

How the city will collect water bill debts is contingent on the plan staff bring to the finance committee.

Bell said the city already offers payment plans, so the hope is that residents go this route and stick with it.

For those who don’t, the city will have to take action which could include cutting off water, Bell said.

Coun. Simon Nattaq said he supports the motion, but added the city should be mindful of how it deals with those who do not have enough money to pay all their debts.

Coun. Romeyn Stevenson seconded the motion after it was amended so that the proposed plan would go to the finance committee before it goes before council.

He said he understands that debts are never a simple matter, and that there is often a story, misunderstanding or issue behind the lack of payments.

“It’s never as cut and dry as it looks,” Stevenson said in council.

He agreed this collection is necessary, as debts have piled up and the city can no longer afford to be lenient.

“The city can’t be a friend to those in need when we have so many debts on our books,” Stevenson said.

He said solving this issue will allow the city to be more judicious about debts in the future.

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(19) Comments:

  1. Posted by Shawn on

    Housing rent cost is so high it should include all the basic utilities for logics sake.

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    • Posted by Important Details on

      Water is usually not included in rent as it is a variable cost. Including it in rent provides a disincentive for the tenant to conserve water, as they don’t face any repercussions to excessive use. Since landlords need to protect themselves from negligent behaviour regarding water use, if they were to include it in the rent they would likely have to increase the rent higher than what a typical water bill would be monthly. So in the end, it becomes even more expensive for a tenant than just paying your water bill for the water you used.

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      • Posted by TypicalTenant on

        Almost all apartment buildings in Canada, and most staff housing apartments in Nunavut, include water in rent. It’s not feasible to included micro-monitoring of water use in apartment buildings as the measurement calculus would need to include fire suppression, and loss due to leakage. This has been a known constraint in residential housing for over 100 years.

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        • Posted by hee Man on

          wow you make sense man, i agree 110% with you. look here mister Boss MAYOR.
          im shure lots of people dont mind the water tax (maybe?)
          what we all hate is an extra darn bill to pay,we got enought allready,put it in the rent cost. cheer

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        • Posted by Hum.. on

          Well actually your statement for staff housing is incorrect, I lived in communities in Nunavut where I had to pay for water delivery even if it was GN staff housing, just saying

  2. Posted by Imoosie on

    They should charge extra for all the free petroleum they gave out.

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    • Posted by sir burp a lot on

      Darn, im still Burping that Petrolium in my last glass of iqaluit fine water ha ha

  3. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    With soaring costs of groceries, rent, electricity,utilities, fuel, pretty much everything etc….. everyone is drowning in debt. We have become a territory of macaroni and rice eating people because no one can afford much else.

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    • Posted by Igunaaqi on

      Not just Nunavut but the whole country, stop voting for the Liberals and the NDP. They have ruined our country.

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      • Posted by w-powa on

        Vote for the mean man with the moustache
        we be paving roads and promess Volks Wagen That Will never get
        Zig Hail – Zig Hail ha ha ha lol

  4. Posted by Bob Edward L on

    Iqaluit Housing Corporation pays for water bills and garbage for tenants but homeowners and businesses pay for water/sewer bills, land leases, property tax, etc. as is in every Nunavut communities. I can imagine it’s hard to collect because water is essential and against health regulations if Municipalities withheld water to Nunavummiut. Maybe hire collection agencies to collect unpaid bills?

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  5. Posted by mc twitchy on

    Let me know who isn’t paying their water bills. I’ll send them a get WELL soon card!

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  6. Posted by Humm on

    I wonder how many people owe because the City admin doesn’t seem to be able to process automatic payments…it’s happened to me twice now that I give them my credit card number for automatic payments and they just don’t do it.

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  7. Posted by Umingmak on

    The solution is simple. Cut off water to anyone who leaves bills unpaid for more than 2-3 months.

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  8. Posted by Ding dong on

    Mayor wants people to be accountable for their water bills when he still hasn’t been accountable for the mistakes he made during the water crisis when he said the water was safe. Instead travelling all the time like he accused the previous mayor. What a joke

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  9. Posted by Time for Oversight on

    Water rates need to be regulated in this territory there is no oversight. The city should not be using water revenue to pave roads! Its for water services, maybe invest in the water plant……. o wait you waited for the feds to bail you out.

    Water revenue should only be used to cover the cost of delivery the service, included a reserve fund to take on large projects and repairs. Like the water plant or utilador. It is not a slush fund for council Mayor Bell. I think we need more oversight on the city and how they disperse funds. They just got how many millions from the feds? where is that going. Time for someone to step up and regulate city water and waste water to ensure fees are reasonable and that they dont say its ok to drink gas water.

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    • Posted by New mayor on

      Everyone needs to get out and vote for a better mayor next election. It’s only a year away.

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  10. Posted by 867 on

    Some people would rather pay for pop, junk food, cigarettes and beer then clean drinking water.

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  11. Posted by Delbert on

    It’s not only Iqaluit and their unpaid water bills. There so much outstanding debt in the whole of Nunavut. People just don’twant to pay bills. The drug dealers, bootlegers, bingo games, sellers of Nevada tickets all are doing ok. But the dept owed to:
    Housing Corp
    Powre Corp
    Property Taxes
    Income tax
    Cerb repayment
    Nortern Stores
    Co-ops
    The list goe’s on. Paying a bill on time is unusual. Most of them are ignored all together. This is a sistemic problem. That is hurting every one. Prices have to increase on goods and services. So companies can recoup their losses and remain functional. Nunavat is a total welfare society. It happens down south. But there are consaquences
    which applied to the debters. You loose your home or are kicked out of rentals if you don’t pay. Power, water are cut off. You don’t pay your taxes or cerb repayment. The feds go into your bank accounts and take the money. Or with hold income tax, child tax credit ot EI payments. Until the arrears are caught up. Stores like Norther and Co-op don’t give ot credit.

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