By Mitchell Tweel (A Reader's View)
I am concerned that the City of Charlottetown is not moving quickly enough to address it's undeniable water problems. I have stated unequivocally in the past that a secure water source should be a much higher priority, for the 35,000 residents who are paying high taxes in the city.
For example, since 2005, the city has received almost $20 million in gas tax funding, but has only spent $1 million on water. The question is why, where is responsible civic government on the most important issue facing city council? Furthermore, the city has spent more than $16 million on ditch infilling, something that many environmentalists across Canada are saying is of limited environmental value and may actually be counterproductive and extremely negative to the environment.
I am disappointed at the high priority the mayor has on the controversial ditch infilling at the at the expense of a secure water supply. The slow pace of progress on water has also stalled major development for the city, and placed city in the position of requiring developers to drill their own wells if they plan to develop.
I question if this is environmentally effective and forward thinking. Will they be tested as stringently as city water? What is the position of the provincial government? Where is the provincial environment? Shouldn't they be demanding that safe and secure water must be a top priority for the third of the Island population that use Charlottetown's water?
I wonder how long it will be before the impact on the winter river will continue to bring disastrous consequences for that watershed, which probably be irreversible. Is it reasonable for the city to say its outdated timetable is acceptable at the expense of another community?
The City of Charlottetown is currently planning to bring its new well field on line by the year 2018. That is far too slow. Over the next five years the city will get more than $15 million in new gas tax funding.
I believe that is more than enough to complete the well fields projects and the city should immediately reprioritize its funding and fast track the water project and if they don't, the provincial and federal government should require the city to use its gas tax funding for water and defer the controversial ditch infilling until this important project is completed.
Water conservation and water meters are assets in addressing the city's water needs, but I am concerned that they cannot come close to addressing the city's unquestionable water problem.
Mitchell Tweel is a Charlottetown city councillor