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LETTER: Water Meter Extortion?

"If you don't let me put a water meter in your home, then I'm going to put one outside your home - and I'm going to charge you for it."

Does a city have the authority to add additional water infrastructure like this and then charge individual residents for it?

On Monday, April 8th, Grand Forks, BC residents learned a few things...

They were told that their city council intends to sign a contract to install water meters into approximately 90 per cent of their homes, even though 30 per cent of eligible voters (796/2653) have signed a petition  stating that they want town hall meetings to discuss the matter, and then to vote on it in a referendum.  (It's also very likely the number of signatures would have been higher on the petition if more neighbourhoods had been canvased.)

When the council was asked if it was financially risky to proceed with signing such a contract, they said no.  They said that for those who didn't let them into their homes, that they would install pit meters on the edge of their property and then charge them the increased cost for doing so (approximately $600).   One resident whom I spoke with questioned whether this was intimidation, coercion, extortion or a combination thereof.

Is this the way we wish city councils to treat citizens?  Can citizens' rights to not have something forced into their homes be respected?  ...without the threat of being charged if they don't comply?

What standards do citizens want their city councils to act by?  Do they want a more democratic approach for issues related to the inside of their homes?

If citizens are wishing for something different from what is happening, what can they do?  They can let their city councillors know now by telling them at council meetings, phoning them and e-mailing them.  Also, they can show them what standards they want by voting carefully come election time this November.

Donna Semenoff

Grand Forks, BC