Clive Community hall asks village to cancel huge water bill

The Clive village council meeting Mar. 8 via Zoom. At top from left is village CAO Carla Kenney, Mayor Luci Henry, Coun. Norma Penney, Coun. Susan Russell and community hall President Lori Oatway. Not pictured are councillors Jeremy Whelan and Tracy Hallman. (ECA Review/Screenshot)

CLIVE – The Clive Community Hall board asked village council to waive a huge water bill at their regular council meeting March 8. Councillors passed a motion for village staff to prepare a report for the next council meeting on options the village has for handling this situation.

Lori Oatway, president of the Clive Community Hall, appeared as a delegation to council to discuss the $1,516.74 water bill the non-profit society received for January and February .

 Oatway stated she was alarmed at the large bill which stated 514.5 meters cubed were used by the hall on that bill.

“It was a little bit shocking,” said Oatway to council. Oatway also stated the non-profit society could find no source for the large water usage.

She stated the village staff examined the water meter and told her it appeared to be operating properly.

However, the community hall president explained that, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the facility has been restricted or closed for much of the past year, and some of the hall’s recent water bills have shown zero usage.

Oatway requested the village council waive the extra charges as they could see that something was clearly wrong.

The president also pointed out that the hall always pays its bills and has even been paying full price for garbage pick up even though there’s been no refuse to pick up.

Coun. Jeremy Whelan asked if there were outside taps on the community hall that a third party might have used to “borrow” water.

Oatway stated the hall board looked at that and there is no indication that anything was used. 

Oatway stated she and an engineer examined the hall to find any problems that may have caused the huge water usage which she said could have filled a large swimming pool. No trace was found.

Village Chief Administrative Officer Carla Kenney said that the village has seen volumes like this before caused by a leaky toilet. She confirmed the village staff could find no source for the leak and the leak appears to have disappeared.

The CAO said the village has never waived charges like this before and doing so could set a precedent. Kenney added it was frustrating to find no cause for a leak.

Coun. Whelan asked if perhaps a pressure valve on the hot water heater was faulty. Oatway answered the entire basement was examined and there was no evidence at all of a water leak.

Later, councillors debated the request. Coun. Susan Russell asked if Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) funds could be used to pay the bill. 

MOST funding has been provided by the provincial government to cover revenue losses or expenses due to the pandemic.

Whelan asked if more investigation needs to be done before council makes a decision on this matter and also suggested replacing the water meter on the community hall regardless.

Kenney responded the village is monitoring the hall to see how much water it’s using. Kenney stated it may never be known what caused the usage but added water meters only turn when water is passing through them.

Coun. Norma Penney agreed with the idea of replacing the meter and stated she had to pay an $800 water bill when unaware a toilet in her home was running while she was away for two weeks.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/East Central Alberta Review