Community hall must pay huge water bill, says Clive council

CLIVE – Clive village council decided a large water bill owed by the community hall has to be paid, but noted some grant help may be available. 

The decision was made at the March 22 regular meeting of council.

The issue of the Clive Community Hall’s water bill for Jan./Feb. 2021 returned for the second consecutive meeting. Earlier in the month community hall board president Lori Oatway appeared before council and asked that the roughly $1,500 bill be waived.

Councillors previously instructed village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Carla Kenney to look at what options existed for handling the water bill. 

Kenney reiterated from the previous council meeting that the water was indeed used, as the meters don’t turn unless water is running through them.

Kenney also stated the Municipal Government Act gives councillors the authority to waive the bill if they so choose. 

Kenney stated she recommended councillors not waive the water bill as it would set a precedent.

She also reminded councillors the Village of Clive will soon become part of the Hwy 12/21 water group which will essentially result in residents being billed for the water they use, hence the village should be encouraging water conservation.

At the same time, though, Kenney noted some grants may be available to help the community hall pay the water bill, including the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) grant, made available by the provincial government to help groups which have lost revenue due to COVID-19. 

She stated it could be argued that whatever caused the water loss at the community hall may have been discovered much earlier if the hall hadn’t been closed due to the pandemic.

Coun. Jeremy Whelan stated he felt the MOST approach was fair, as the hall has suffered financially from the pandemic closure.

Coun. Susan Russell stated she didn’t want to set a precedent, suggesting a compromise: requiring the bill be paid but offsetting with funds from the MOST grant. Coun. Norma Penney agreed.

Kenney noted it appeared the village had about $500 unspent from the MOST grant.

Coun. Tracey Hallman stated she was hesitant to waive the water bill as everyone has had trouble in the pandemic and if this was a resident the village would require them to pay the bill. 

Mayor Luci Henry agreed.

Russell asked if any cause was ever found for the water loss. 

Kenney answered the leak has stopped but no cause was found.

Whelan stated if a resident had this problem it likely would have been caught sooner, but since the hall was closed for the pandemic, the problem went undetected longer. 

He made a motion to provide $500 from the MOST funds to help the community hall but it was defeated by a 2 – 3 vote.

Councillors eventually passed a motion by a 3 – 2 vote that the village notify the community hall the water bill must be paid but that the board can apply for village help through the community support fund.

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