Letter to the Editor: Let democracy prevail

The only way to save some of the ill-spent $1.3 million on this ill-conceived water meter program is to immediately call a moratorium.

It appears that mayor and council aren’t aware, or don’t care, just how many people are really pissed off about the current water meter program. You hear it everywhere: casual conversations, emails, letters to the editor. These people are really angry that mayor and council have taken it upon themselves to force this program on us. Funny how one small group, elected to represent us, is ironically going against the majority will.

In case the mayor, city council, and so-called “silent majority” didn’t notice, or have forgotten, 800-odd petition signatures against the water meter plan means a huge (landslide) majority of people don’t want it. The real majority.

There are city-sponsored ads in the Gazette asking people to cooperate and book an appointment for meter installation, boasting that over 500 have been installed. Some homeowners are willingly going along with the installations; however, many people are doing the installations only because they are scared as to what will happen if they don’t comply.

The mayor and council are now sponsoring ads in the paper with a threat of a $2,500 installation fee for those who don’t voluntarily accept a “free” meter. (Funny, this fee started at $600 when Neptune did its open house at the Senior’s Centre in the summertime). The program is now coming up against more and more opposition as they approach those residents who don’t want a meter installed.

This program won’t work properly unless every household in Grand Forks gets a meter. Even if the mayor and council somehow convince, cajole or coerce 1,000 or 1,500 of our 2,000-odd homeowners to put a meter in, the remaining homes won’t be done.

Without these last 500-1,000 (or whatever number) homes on the program, there will be no fair way to administer water billing. There will be endless disputes, and perhaps expensive court cases due to unfair billing.

As already evidenced in last week’s Gazette, some people are prepared to sue the city for enforced water meter installations due to potential health risks or other reasons. This is only the tip of the iceberg…  If the mayor and city council attempt to charge the “last” 500 to 1,000 homeowners $2,500 for each water meter “involuntarily” installed, they will have disputes, lawsuits and legal battles coming out their ears.

This would ultimately cost the City of Grand Forks, and the taxpayers, a fortune. And all because the mayor and city council refuse to pay attention to what the majority of homeowners say on this issue.

How can elected officials just ignore the people they represent? It’s called political suicide. (For the record, Councilor Michael Wirischagin is opposed to the water meter plan. Thanks Michael!).

The only way to save some of the ill-spent $1.3 million on this ill-conceived water meter program is to immediately call a moratorium. The current program just won’t work. And… there is a better alternative.

Let democracy prevail.

Jack Koochin, Grand Forks

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