Kenneth Brown
of The Clarion

The Town of Kindersley is getting serious about its water and sewer systems. The town has made significant increases to fines in its water and sewer utilities bylaw.

A special meeting of council was called for Feb. 15, so the town’s elected officials came together for a public session. The purpose of the special meeting was to amend Bylaw 16-09, to regulate the maintenance and management of the waterworks and sanitary sewer systems, and plumbing and to provide for the collection of water and sewer accounts. Bylaw 05-18, to amend Bylaw 16-09, was given three readings and adopted at the meeting.

The entire discussion regarding the bylaw amendments was done during a private, in-camera session during the special meeting. Not one member of the town’s council or administration spoke to the amendments during the public session.

In an interview, Mayor Rod Perkins said council held the special meeting to “tighten up” the water and sewer bylaw. The bylaw amendments included changes to the penalties and notice of violation section and the payment of notice of violation section of the bylaw, but the main change is to the penalty schedule.

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“We ramped up the fines for non-compliance with water meters,” the mayor said, recognizing the changes were made due to information that came to council’s attention and fine amounts in the penalty schedule were 10 years old and not high enough to deter users from breaking rules.

Perkins said the town has fielded enough complaints about high water rates, so officials do not want people breaking the rules in place for water and sewer systems. The fines have been reviewed and updated, he said.

When asked why a special meeting was called to address the bylaw instead of waiting for the next regular meeting of council on Feb. 26, Perkins said council wanted to get started on a project to check for non-compliance with water meters and council wanted the changes in place before the project was underway.

He noted that the town made “significant increases” to the fines in the penalty schedule and in some cases, the fines have increased from $500 to $10,000. The change to the payment of notice of violations section updates the bylaw to recognize the new municipal bylaw court.

“You have to have some teeth in your penalties,” Perkins added, recognizing that large users of water in Kindersley could cost the town and its taxpayers a lot of money if they do not comply with the rules of the bylaw.

As per the changes to Schedule D of Bylaw 16-09, the new fines for specific offences range from $2,500 to $10,000 for individuals and from $5,000 to $20,000 for corporations. All of the fines for specific offences used to be $250 or $500, so the increases are substantial.

For offences including tampering with, altering, removing or disconnecting a water meter, operating, or having the bypass valve open contrary to the bylaw and installing a bypass line around a water meter contrary to the bylaw, the fine is $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for a corporation at the time of issuance. The fines double if an individual or corporation waits more than 10 days to pay, so the penalties become $10,000 for an individual or $20,000 for a corporation.

The fines for other offences are $2,500 for an individual or $5,000 for a corporation at the time of issuance, and $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for a corporation after 10 days. The smaller fines are for offences including improper usage or consumption of water, discharge or release of prohibited substances into the sanitary sewer system without authorization, installing water or sewer service connections without authorization, and turning water services on or off without authorization.

There are also penalties for improper care or protection of water meters. The penalties range from the cost of repair for the first offence to $2,000 and the cost of repair for a third offence. The amendments are now in effect.