| Jun 30, 2005

Feature article, July 7, 2005

Feature article July 7, 2005

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Sydenham Water Meeting: an Angry Evening with Few Answers

by Wilma Kenny

In the first public meeting on the Sydenham water issue in two years, over 100 angry residents confronted representatives of council, township staff, project engineering and construction. With the treatment plant under construction, heavy machinery in the streets, and the water tower rising above the village, many questions remain unanswered. Most of those in the hall said they felt they had been dragged into a poorly planned project they neither wanted nor needed, one they feared would cost them dearly.


Questions included: What are the criteria for exemptions? Not decided, yet. Mayor Lake said one possibility is that anyone for whom the total initial cost is more than $25,000 might be exempt from bringing the line from the street to their home, if they could prove they had potable water. But they would still have to pay their assessed portion of the capital costs (based on frontage), as well as an ongoing basic monthly fee toward upkeep and replacement reserve for the system.

Is hook-up mandatory? That is, if one brings the pipes from the street to the house, installs a meter, and pays the basic monthly fee, must they actually connect their household to the community system? Many residents, who have good wells, dont want to be forced to use chlorinated lake water. Although originally assured they wouldnt have to, this is apparently now undecided.

Will all residents be required to pay for a building permit, so the municipal inspector can review their installation? An affirmative answer brought a roar of amazement and anger from the crowd, causing the mayor to agree to look into it.

Questions were raised about the eventual cost of the project: the present budget has had all but 2% of the contingency funds removed. Mayor Lake said that if anyone knew where additional government funding might be found, he would go after it at once, and promised the municipality would not spend any more than they had to. Villagers learned that an annual replacement reserve of $63,000 would be added to the monthly costs of running the water system.

Residents finally received a work schedule giving the order in which the streets are being torn up for the water main installation. The rest of the questions will have to wait. They must be discussed by the water committee, then sent as recommendations to Council, before Council will vote on them. The next water committee meeting, which though not a public meeting is open to the public, will be at the township hall Monday, July 18, at 10 am.

On a more positive note: Water Aid!

Plan to be in Sydenham at the SHS auditorium on Saturday August 20, for Water Aid, a concert and dance to remember. Determined to make the best of a difficult situation, Sydenham residents are planning a community fundraiser to help the lower income people of Sydenham keep their homes. Headlined by Dan Aykroyd, the evening will feature the groups Colonel Angus and Donkey Punch. The latter band, from Ottawa, serves up a crowd-pleasing mixture of rock/funk with a strong beat and bluesy undertones. The committee welcomes volunteers: phone Cathy Waugh at 376-3474 if you can lend a hand.

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