South Glengarry residents’ group calls for water and sewer moratorium

South Lancaster resident Glenn Patton makes a presentation to South Glengarry council on Tuesday, July 3, 2018. Patton is calling for a temporary moratorium on raising water and sewer rates in three villages and one subdivision in the township. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

LANCASTER – An “ad-hoc group of friends from Lancaster and South Lancaster” is calling for a “temporary moratorium” on massive water and sewer rate increases affecting three villages and a subdivision.

As Cornwall Newswatch first told you in June, residents of Glen Walter, Lancaster, Green Valley and Kennedy Redwood were facing a huge spike in their bills this year. The hardest hit will be Glen Walter and Lancaster with a 34-37 per cent jump.

In a presentation to council Tuesday night (July 3), South Lancaster resident Glenn Patton asked for a temporary halt on the increases and that a “super committee” with politicians and two people from each affected area to come up with a long term solution. He also suggested an increase cap of 5 per cent per year.

With Eastern Ontario MPP’s Steve Clark and Jim McDonell handling the municipal affairs file, Patton believes they could leverage funding for water and sewer systems. “If we have a chance to get some funding from the government, now’s the time,” Patton told council.

Patton said it was “not fair” that council made this decision when a minority of council is on a municipal system.

The South Lancaster resident challenged council’s assertion the money is needed for future upkeep and that it’s user funded. “Well, we don’t necessarily agree with it. Some of us would have been better to stay on wells and septic but, at the urging of the township, we all joined up on to the system, now we’re…being held captive by it with very little input,” Patton said.

Patton said it was “totally unacceptable” to impose the increase on retirees on fixed incomes and pensions. “What are they supposed to do? Both go out and get extra jobs to pay their water supply? It makes no sense.”

The group will have a lot of work in order to sway council to reverse its decision. Coun. Trevor Bougie was the only one of the five-member council to vote against the increase, suggesting a phased in increase of $10 per billing plus a 2 per cent increase.

Council accepted the presentation but didn’t take any action on it that night.

In a telephone message to Cornwall Newswatch Wednesday (July 4), Patton said their group and “many others” are calling councillors to reconsider and “it’s getting pretty heated on the phones.”