11/28/2002

Toronto, Ont., November 28, 2002 AMO attended the Standing Committee on General Government to outline a number of significant issues with the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Sustainable Water and Sewage Systems Act.
A fundamental flaw of the legislation is the authority of the Province to order, rather than negotiate with a municipal government to take over a private water system with no guarantee that the costs will be recovered.  At the same time, the Province has the authority in emergency situations to negotiate with the Ontario Clean Water Agency, or another agency to take over a system. This is a negotiated agreement, with full payment to the interim operator.

"The government's proposal for private systems goes well beyond the recommendations of Justice O'Connor," said AMO President Ken Boshcoff.  "It is patently unfair to order municipalities and make property tax payers financially responsible for individual private operators' systems, such as mobile home parks - to pick up the tab if the operator walks away from the system or fails to deliver clean water."

The issue of private systems defaulting to municipal government also throws a wrench in the works for Bill 175 requirements, where a municipality is required to do long range asset management planning.  "How does a municipality do asset management and financing, when at any time, the MOE may order them to take over an expensive, derelict private system within their boundaries, which eats up their capital and operational dollars?" said Boshcoff. 

The government must release its overall plan for water and sewer, including whether the Minister will implement his authority to establish a third party entity (similar to the Ontario Energy Board) as well as the provincial financing strategy for water and sewer systems.  In the absence of this overall plan, AMO believes the Standing Committee, municipalities and stakeholders are at a huge disadvantage in commenting on these two critical pieces of legislation. 

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) is a non-profit organization with member municipalities representing 98 per cent of Ontario’s population.  AMO supports and enhances strong and effective municipal government in Ontario and promotes the value of municipal government as a vital and essential component of Ontario and Canada’s political system.

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