‘We’re being run over here’: rural homeowners being soaked financially by water line project

Some property owners in the Rural Municipality of Cartier say a project is soaking them financially.

The RM is moving ahead with a plan to hook up the last major area in the community to water service.

The 29 homeowners on the list have no choice but to connect to the new water line – a move that will cost them more than $20,000 up front or nearly double that on a 20-year financial plan.

“If this happened that we had to pay this amount of money we could possibly lose our business,” said Jennifer Hall, a co-owner of Shoreline Custom Covers and Marine in Cartier.

Like a lot of businesses, Shoreline Custom Covers and Marine is still recovering from the pandemic.

“Feeling the crunch of that and everything, and now with the cost of everything going through the roof,” said Scott Hall, a co-owner of the business.

Now they are dealing with another bill heading down the pipe.

Right now, the Halls have water trucked into a holding tank, but their property is one of the 29 which will soon be hooked up to a new water line. They have no choice but to buy in.

“We’re being run over here,” Scott said.

Property owners have two options – make a one-time payment of $23,000 up front, or finance $2,200 a year for 20 years totalling $45,000.

The couple say they were blindsided by this and only realized what was happening after a decision was made by the RM council last fall.

“I actually broke down in tears,” said Jennifer.

The RM of Cartier says it’s been trying for more than two decades to connect the last area of the RM to water in order to provide reliable, potable water infrastructure.

“We can make a difference in about 30 residents’ lives, so having running water in 2023 is very essential,” said Christa Vann Mitchell, reeve in the rural municipality.

In 2022, the province came through with $1.7 million of the estimated $2.7 million price tag for the project. Between April and July of last year, the RM says it did public consultations on the benefits of the project including meetings, emails and mail outs.

The 29 property owners are paying $679,000 towards the project, with the RM kicking in $350,000 from its utility reserve.

The RM says the costs for the homeowners could come down in price, as the estimates for the project were a worst-case scenario.

Vann Mitchell said the new water line will help improve the resale value of the properties and warns this is cheaper to do now because of the provincial money.

“The next time it goes around there may not be any provincial funding and this is the time to do it,” she said. “It may cost you $60,000 in ten years’ time.”

Vann Mitchell also said if someone during the consultations had come forward saying they can’t afford this, the RM was willing to work with them on a solution.

The Halls feel they did not get that opportunity. But with work already underway, it appears they can’t stop progress and a convenience they say they can’t afford.

“We don’t have the money to fix what’s not broken,” Scott said. 

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