LETTERS: Murkiness over water secrecy

Re: Water deal muzzles city for 3 years, Nov. 18.

An open letter to White Rock mayor and council.

Re: Water deal muzzles city for 3 years, Nov. 18.

On Nov. 15, 2014, you were elected by the taxpayers of White Rock to be honest, truthful and transparent. And yet you enter into an agreement with Epcor that contains a three-year confidentiality agreement – an agreement to spend millions of taxpayer dollars where details will not be made public until after the next city election, which is scheduled for Nov. 17, 2018.

You were elected to not only be honest and transparent, but to be seen to be honest and transparent.

The city had the option of expropriation, where you had control over the process, rather than a price determined through arbitration.

Taxpayers deserve an explanation for the reasons that the city felt that they had to accept that details of the agreement were to be kept secret until after the next election. This absence of transparency leads taxpayers to think that back-room deals are probably taking place.

The taxpayers also deserve an explanation as to the reasons that the city would not at first provide a copy of this agreement, and it was the BC Comptroller of Water Rights’ office that provided a copy.

The appearance to the average taxpayer is that the city is being less than honest and transparent – and taxpayers are being treated like mushrooms, being kept in the dark.

Richard Gill, Surrey

• • •

Editor:

One aspect of the City of White Rock’s purchase of the water utility that has not been fully disclosed is the shift in the cost of fire protection, known as the hydrant charge, from property tax to the water bill.

We, the citizens, don’t know what happened behind closed doors, but what we do know is that this shift benefits the owners and developers of the highest value properties at the expense of the rest of us.

The owner of a $2-million condo gets such a big benefit that it’s like getting their water for free for the entire year, while the owner of a low-value property feels the full impact of higher water costs.

Seniors who participate in the program to defer property tax suffer a double-whammy, since they will no longer be able to defer this part of the property tax. It will now be embedded in their water bill.

It may be just a few dollars a month more, but did our council really intend to make seniors subsidize the wealthy and developers? We can’t even tell if they knew what they were doing, since it’s all so secret.

Tenants who are obliged to pay utilities may also find themselves subsidizing their landlords, if they end up paying a water bill that includes a charge that really benefits the landlord. It’s been part of their property tax in the past.

Depending on the facts for each specific water consumer, they may be hurt or benefited by council’s action.

How did it happen that in our community the rich get subsidized by seniors and the less fortunate?

My guess is that when you understand that the biggest beneficiaries of this switch are the developers of the multi-million-dollar condos, it’s pretty clear that this is the work of those at city hall who listen to the developers who swarm around there, rather than the citizens of this city.

Dorothy Bower, White Rock

 

 

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