Letter to Wawa Candidates for Council and Voters

October 5, 2018

Letter to Wawa Candidates for Council and Voters,

First, I would like to thank Mayor Rody for running for Mayor again.  I believe Mayor Rody has provided sound and positive leadership over the past four years.  I would also like to thank all the candidates for running for Council.

It was great to see everybody at the All Candidates Night.  This shows how much everybody cares about our community.  It was a lot less eventful than four years ago.  I give the current Mayor and Council credit for this as they have provided proper leadership over the past four years.

I sat quietly, listening and observing all the questions and answers throughout the night.  There were a lot of good questions and some good answers. However, there were several answers that were not correct or lacked response.  I respected the rules laid out for the night and I stopped myself from going to the microphone to debate the candidates and/or make speeches. Instead, I decided to write a letter to provide my opinion on the issues discussed.  I believe my experience as a former Wawa Councillor and Director of Infrastructure may provide you with a more informed and objective response on some of the issues discussed.

Water Meters and Water Conservation

I completely disagree with the comments made that water conservation is a waste of time.  Water is a natural resource and we should all respect this natural resource.  Every gallon of water needs to be filtered, chlorinated and pumped to our homes or businesses.  The Water Treatment Plant does have one pump that is running all the time to maintain positive pressure throughout the Municipal water system.  This pump is a variable speed pump that automatically adjusts the pressure based on demand.  When the demand is greater than the pumps capacity, a secondary pump turns on.

The statement made that the volume of water pumped does not affect the electricity used is not correct.  This statement contradicts the laws of physics. More flow at a constant pressure will always equal more energy required.  Therefore, by conserving water, the Municipality will save costs on electricity, filtration, and chlorination.  The largest savings from conservation will be the electricity costs. The electricity cost for the Water Treatment Plant is approximately $175,000 per year.

The other statement made that water conservation will cause sanitary sewer issues is incorrect. There are a small number of sanitary sewer mains within the Municipality that might be of concern and might require additional inspections or maintenance.  Lower Toronto Avenue is an example of this, but this sanitary main is being replaced this year.  The majority of the sanitary sewer mains are adequately designed to handle lower flows of water due to conservation.

The water meters were installed under a grant program and the cost to the Municipality was not significant.  The reason why water meters were installed was to better determine the actual water consumption of an individual household or business.  It is common practice throughout the Province to charge water and sewer as user-based services by actual consumption usage.  This way you pay more if you use more.  The question that should be asked is “What level of service for managing and administrating the water meters does Mayor and Council want for the taxpayer?”.

Recycling

Recycling was a big topic of discussion.  I believe we all want a cleaner environment, so we can leave this environment for our kids. It is surprising that we live in the middle of the wilderness and don’t recycle more than we do.  The two main reasons why recycling has not been fully implemented by the Municipality is because it is not mandated by the Province due to our population and the costs to recycle is much higher than straight garbage disposal.

There is very little cost recovery in recycling.  Plastics recycling has no cost recovery and is only an expense.  Therefore, as taxpayers, we should all understand that providing a good recycling program will require increased taxes or increased garbage collection costs.  The estimated costs to fully implement a recycling program is in the range of $250,000 per year or more.  The Infrastructure Department has been reviewing several recycling options over the past year. I bring this up to highlight the fact if we want to recycle, it will cost the taxpayer more in the future to dispose of their garbage and recycling than it does today to dispose of just garbage.

Fluoride in the Water

There were several comments made about fluoride in our drinking water.  My research indicates that there are several dental health benefits from fluoride and no proven adverse effects from fluoride in drinking water if the levels are within the range defined by the health units.  The comment made about the corrosiveness of the fluoride is only true at the concentrated levels.  Fluoride does not corrode the water mains or household plumbing at the small dosage levels in the drinking water.  The cost of providing fluoride in municipal water is approximately $2,500 per year, not the $18,000 stated at the meeting.

Current Road Conditions

The reason why the roads in Wawa have cracks is due to the climate we live in.  The asphalt on the roads must cycle through temperatures from +40 degrees Celsius and -40 degrees Celsius.  These temperatures differences cause extremely large thermal expansion and contraction which causes small cracks.  If these cracks are not sealed, they will get larger and larger due to freeze-thaw cycles.  I believe it is extremely important to implement a pavement preservation program to help extend the life of the pavement.  Without a pavement preservation program, the road surfaces in Wawa will continue to deteriorate over time and require full replacement.

Good Governance

The elected Councillors, Mayor and Municipal Staff need to work as a team and not against each other. This is a key philosophy to provide proper governance and management for the Municipality.  It is extremely important for all Council members and Municipal staff to support final decisions through votes for resolutions or bylaws. If Mayor, Council, Municipal Staff and the rest of the community can work together as a team and not as individuals, Wawa will continue to be a great place to live.

I hope my perspective and information will help candidates and voters in the month to come.  Good luck to all the candidates and thank you again for running for office.  I look forward to seeing a Council that will work hard, make common sense decisions, and provide a positive leadership for the Municipality.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my views, James Neufeld

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3 comments

  1. Thank you James for clarification on these topics. I found it hard to believe that water conservation would have the drastic negative affect on our sewage system as suggested by the candidate. It was inconceivable to my mind that council and staff would not have researched all facets before making the decision to encourage water conservation by use of pay for what you use metering. I am aware of the opposition to meters by some residents as it is likely that their water bill will rise. I am hopeful as a single person household that mine will be lower than the current $1200 per year bill I now pay. Even if my bill is not less, I will be satisfied in knowing that I am only paying for what I use.
    I encourage all residents to attend council meetings regularly in order to understand the reasonings behind the decisions made by council.
    Please exercise your right to vote starting next week and feel free to contact candidates with your questions.

  2. Thanks James. I appreciate your factual information. Sometimes we are told information that sounds “true” but was not in fact researched properly or is interpreted incorrectly. Like Jayne commented before me, please vote. We are fortunate to live in a country where we freely get to do so. Get informed! Go vote!

  3. Hi James

    Your comments are most welcome and appreciated. You have provided much useful information, which will hopefully enable us to make more informed decisions about local issues. For instance, knowing the cost of recycling is vital to the final decision as to whether or not a recycling program will be implemented in Wawa. Perhaps the money saved by the municipality’s reduced electricity bill, should water meters be beneficial in decreasing electricity usage, could be used to offset recycling costs. There is obviously no money to be made in recycling plastics but since the companies that produce them are not legislated to dispose of the “garbage” they create, it seems the tax-payer is on the hook.

    I was also interested to read about your analysis of the benefits and cost of fluoride, which, when used in low quantities, is non-corrosive.

    Road preservation? Bring it on! But can we please improve the streets before preserving them in their present poor state…