Iqalummiut get a break on November water bills
Council votes in favour of providing full rebate to residents affected by water emergency
Iqalummiut will not have to pay their water bills for the month of November as city councillors voted in favour of providing a 100 per cent rebate due to the water emergency.
The move will cost the City of Iqaluit approximately $1.7 million, money council hopes the Government of Nunavut will cover.
The Government of Nunavut had imposed a do-not-consume water advisory from Oct. 12 to Dec. 10 due to fuel contamination in the city’s water supply.
“It’s the city’s responsibility to give this benefit to the citizens,” Coun. John Fawcett, who made the motion to provide a full rebate, said during Tuesday evening’s council meeting.
This is the second month in a row councillors decided the city should incur the cost of water use among residents. But this time, it came with a little bit of pushback from one councillor.
Coun. Kyle Sheppard tried to amend Fawcett’s motion so that the city would cover only 50 per cent of residents’ water bills for November.
He said he appreciates the impact the water emergency had on residents, but that the city has to have money in order to maintain current water operations, such as sewage, and to partner with the federal and territorial governments for other projects.
As well, the last time the city’s water supply tested positive for fuel was on Oct. 23.
“The fact of the matter is the city was producing good water,” Sheppard said. “Limits imposed on our ability to consume that water were out of our control.”
Sheppard said residents used about the same amount of water as usual over the month of November.
Fawcett disagreed with Sheppard’s suggestion, and Sheppard voted against providing a full rebate.
Coun. Sheila Flaherty said she wants to discuss providing a rebate that covers up until Dec. 10, when the government lifted the do-not-consume advisory.
That couldn’t be done in the same motion, Mayor Kenny Bell said.
The mayor noted that the water emergency began on Oct. 12 but the city gave residents a break on water bills for the full month of October.
During Tuesday’s meeting, councillors also voted in favour of applying for $1.67 million from the Nunavut government’s Municipal Request for Assistance Program to cover the costs that arose in November because of the water emergency.
The estimated cost of running the city’s water system is $965,677 a month, which is based on a six-month average, said Iqaluit’s senior director of corporate services, Alison Drummond.
Iqaluit council had previously asked the Nunavut government for $1.5 million to help it cover water emergency-related costs it incurred in October.