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Feature Article - September 22, 2005

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Feature Article

September 22, 2005

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Sydenham Water will leave a political legacy

Editorial by JeffGreen

It could be six or eight months until the water starts being pumped out of the new treatment plant to houses and businesses in Sydenham Village, but as a political issue, Sydenham Water has been resolved. Barring any last-minute intervention, the municipal portion of the project will be paid for by the people who will receive water, and the rest of South Frontenac, and even the rest of Loughborough district, will not be subsidising the project at all.


This outcome was foretold by the terms by which South Frontenac came into existence in 1998. Knowing that the Sydenham Water problem would have to be dealt with eventually, it was agreed that the costs would not be borne by the population as a whole. The ratepayers in Loughborough district made their preference known during the municipal election two years ago, when they elected two candidates who did not come from Sydenham, bypassing several candidates from Sydenham who ran as anti-Council, pro-Sydenham Safe Water Association candidates.

So, sometime next spring, 200 ratepayers will receive special levies from the township of between $5,000 and $10,000, and most of them expect that number to be closer to $10,000 than $5,000.

One of the questions that remains is whether this is seen by Council and the taxpayers in general as a unique case, or whether this will be a precedent for future localised projects.

A few months ago I wrote a facetious editorial about the ‘Mitchell Creek Bridge’ wherein I suggested that only people that live on the far side of the bridge should be expected to pay for its replacement.

There is a serious point to be made, however. Is there going to be sense of unity in South Frontenac Township in the future? Sooner or later there is going to be another major capital project that needs doing somewhere in the township; another water project, a major road repair, a million dollar bridge, and the inevitable question will be - Who pays?

The nature of the township of South Frontenac is such that many people rarely, if ever, travel to different districts of the township. People work in Kingston and drive home each day on Sydenham Road, or Road 38, or the Perth road. They go from their own district to the City of Kingston and back again.

What does someone from Glenburnie care about what happens in Verona or Burridge? Would they want to pay so people they don’t know can benefit?

Of course, South Frontenac is not unique in this regard. There are people in all the townships of Frontenac County that resent having to support the interests of individuals and communities they feel little connection to. But the other townships have all operated since amalgamation as single entities and have paid for all projects out of collective funds. When capital projects come up in the future, they will have precedent to fall back on. This is not the case in South Frontenac.

Sydenham may have been in a unique position among communities in South Frontenac to pay for a large project, because of its institutional ratepayers: the schools, the seniors’ apartment, the township itself, and some large retailers. Other communities will not be so lucky when a large project becomes necessary. But don’t expect the residents of Sydenham to volunteer to help fund a project elsewhere in South Frontenac. -JG

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