Seasonal Sewer Rates Issue

Gimli seasonal and urban district residents criticize water, sewer rates

The Interlake Enterprise, June 15, 2016, Page 10

By Jim Mosher

Outnumbered by provincial and local municipal officials, the four people who spoke during a Public Utilities Board (PUB) hearing last Tuesday [June 7, 2016] evening hammered home long-standing concerns about Gimli’s water and sewer rates.

Four people spoke to the matter after introductory remarks from Anita Neville, vice chair of the board and chairman of the PUB hearing panel of four.

Representing the municipal delegation were Mayor Randy Woroniuk, chief administrative officer Joann King, utility and planning services clerk Amanda Colbourne and public works chairman Coun. Danny Luprypa.

King said the rates, which had been approved by the PUB on an interim basis in December, pending the recent public hearing, said reduced rates for sewer reflect the municipality’s decision to take sewage from the Diageo plant on Distillery Rd.

“We have been working on these rates for some time,” King told the PUB panel. “[We are] moving them forward so we could offer our consumers this reasonable rate structure. We had an opportunity come forward with a major industrial customer. We’ve worked with them [Diageo] to put together a rate that would be feasible for them.”

The chief administrator noted that the municipality and Diageo have a three-year agreement. The interim rates cover the years 2016-2018, inclusive.

“Are there any positive environmental impacts [of the Diageo deal]?” a panel member asked.

“The environmental benefits are really in the area of odour from their aging system,” King said. “At our sewage treatment plant, we struggle because we don’t have a large number of users.”

In addition, she said the effluent from Diageo is “not sewage in the traditional sense” because it has high concentrations of “bugs” that are active year-round.

The four property owners who spoke during the hour-long hearing were more concerned about the minimum charge for sewer.

Most argued that they should not be charged a minimum consumption rate of 13.5 cubic metres quarterly when they are only at their summer homes four to six months a year. According to the interim rates for sewer in Loni Beach and South Beach, property owners there pay a quarterly service charge of $21.33 this year (down from $27.07) and a $1.29/ cu.m. (down from $2.31) charge based on a minimum of 13.5 cu. m., or $17.41.

Glen Rossong has been a persistent critic of the municipality’s sewer and water rates structure for years. His family has had a summer home in South Beach since 1937, he told the panel.

“I’ve been waiting for this day for two-and-a-half years,” Rossong, 62, and a permanent resident of West St. Paul, told the PUB panel.

He said he wanted a seasonal rate to be considered because he does not use the sewer system during the winter. Administrator King later explained that there had been a seasonal rate but many seasonal residents used their sewer during the off-season.

Rossong estimated that of 120 homes in South Beach, only 17 property owners live there permanently. King did not quibble with Rossong’s numbers but, once again, stressed that there are many more permanent residences that could be occupied during the winter if the owners chose.

That creates an enforcement and fairness issue should residents ‘over stay’ during the winter, she suggested.

Rossong said the matter could be resolved by installing meters in sewage tanks. “I should have the right to install a meter — at my cost,” he said. “In my case, I don’t have a well.”

He characterized the existing sewer rates for summer property owners as a cash grab from city people. “We are paying more than in the town of Gimli,” he said. “The question is: Why shouldn’t everybody be paying the same.”

South Beach resident Ken Kristjanson told the PUB panel the area’s cottage association made a presentation to council four years ago. “There would have been more people here tonight had we known about this meeting,” he said. “We said four years ago that we’d like consideration for the seasonal. They [council of the day] said it was not possible.”

Kristjanson said if the rates stay as they are in the now-enforced interim rates, it won’t be the end. But: “Ever since we got the service, my municipal tax bill has always been lower that the sewer bill,” he said.

Ken Andrewshenko lives in the Vesturland subdivision, west of Hwy. 9. He has lived in Gimli since 1983. A contractor, Andrewshenko says he has a lot of contact with permanent residents and others who choose to travel during the winter months.

They are required to pay the quarterly sewer and water rates, even though don’t use the ‘commodities’, he said. He noted that Manitoba Hydro would be skewered by customers if it charged a minimum consumption rate when customers are not using electricity.

He did not quarrel with the quarterly service charge which is meant to defray the ongoing cost of maintaining the sewer and water systems.

He said charging a base quarterly rate of 13.5 cu.m. when no ‘commodity’ is consumed is “unfair, probably illegal, probably fraudulent.”

“I have not been satisfied by any of their explanations,” he said of Gimli administration’s arguments for maintaining a minimum quarterly ‘consumption’ rate over and above the service charge.

“It’s not fair to the people who have summer cottages,” he said. “They’re not using the commodity but they’re paying for a commodity. This system should be changed. We vote for leadership. A leader would say, ‘Let’s do some critical thinking here.’”

Further, Andrewshenko believes the entire municipality should be on a seasonally-adjusted flat rate for all consumers.

King said the minimum consumption rate has been around for some time. “It’s to ensure our system is sustainable operationally,” she said. “The quarterly minimum is reflective of managing and administering the utility. It’s not a pipe charge.”

Panel chair Neville interrupted Andrewshenko who’d taken exception to King’s explanations. “We’re not here to get into an argument,” Neville said.

“We just want to pay for what we get,” Andrewshenko concluded.

Before the hearing concluded, a long- time resident, who did not provide his name, encouraged the panel to consider the aging demographic of Gimli and the struggle among seniors to keep pace with everincreasing costs.

“I’ve heard from many seniors who say they can’t afford to stay in Gimli,” he said.

The PUB normally takes about two months to make its decisions regarding utility rate changes. It may approve, deny or amend Gimli’s application.Ltr to the Editor 16-6-15

Howard Beach Approach

New beach-approach staircase was installed this week at Howard beach. This is one of a few which the municipality are providing along the lake, including Brewster Bay and Lochwoods.

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The aluminum stairs were manufactured by Zag Fab Boats in Riverton, MB.

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Kent Zagozewski and his son Lawson were the fabricators and installers.

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South Beach Tribute – Maxine Ward

Maxine Ward

Maxine H. Ward

1927-2016

One of the longest summer South Beach residents, Maxine H. Carter Ward, died on April 26, 2016 in Winnipeg. She spent almost every summer of her life in South Beach.

Born to Percy and Winifred Carter (nee Harris), Maxine grew up in the north end of Winnipeg with her sister, Sylva. They attended Tabernacle Baptist Church, all of them singing in the choir. Maxine had a beautiful soprano voice and did vocal and piano duets with her sister, performed lead roles in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, competed in music festivals and sang with The Triphonic Singers girls choir.

At Baptist youth camp, Maxine’s attractive smile and beautiful voice caught the attention of a young chemist who had recently arrived from Toronto, Bill Ward. They were married in 1949 and soon after followed Doug, Don and Evelyn.

She was the consummate stay-at- home mom. If she wasn’t at the kitchen counter preparing meals and baking, then she was at her sewing machine making clothes for herself and her kids. One of the ways she expressed her love was by baking, especially her apples pies & the famous Ward ‘Googly Buns’. Her interests included decorating, millinery and knitting; she created many afghans, beautiful sweaters for her grandkids, and until very recently, scarves for Siloam Mission. She had a childhood pen pal in England with whom she faithfully corresponded for 50 years. As a teen she enjoyed tennis and later she was a ‘good sport’ at golf, though her sons would call her a duffer. She enjoyed walking for exercise. In midlife she discovered reading and spent many hours devouring devotional material, becoming a student of the Bible.

One beautiful thread that ran through the fabric of her entire life was the dearly-loved family cottage in South Beach, Gimli.

19610042 cottageMaxine started coming to Gimli as a child because her uncle, Percy D. Harris was one of the first summer residents, having already built Whippoorwill Cottage at 34 South Colonization Road (ref. Gimli Saga). In 1938 her father, Percy Carter, built his cottage close by on Benedict Ave, three lots west of the lake.

Red Cross stand

Maxine and Sylva’s lemonade stand in South Beach in support of the Red Cross, 1940.

Women and children would pack up after the final school bell in June and move to the lake until Labour Day. The fathers would join them on the weekend, bringing what few provisions were not available in the well-equipped town of Gimli. Maxine remembers her mother baking pies on Fridays in the wood stove, to be ready for Percy’s arrival from the city. Water was carried by pail from the numerous artesian wells dotted throughout South Beach.

Max, Sylva & Coutures

Carter and Couture kids

The Carter/Ward, Strachan, Stephen/Pennycook, and Couture kids all played together in the water and sand. Their progeny have been fixtures of South Beach for the last 80 years.

Carters, Strachans & Coutures

South Beach gang ca. 1938

Maxine’s much older cousin was the teacher Florence Harris, who inherited Whippoorwill Cottage and never married and had no children. Along with her teaching ability, she had a generous heart and regularly invited all the children from the neighbourhood over to play. She had the most interesting and unique toys; a huge farm set out on the grass, Betsy McCall doll and clothes. She developed treasure hunts, crafts, games and served KoolAid in plastic cups carried in a wire rack. The invitation to come to Whippoorwill were the days when Miss Harris would fly a Union Jack flag on the front of her cottage. She was not a well woman, so days when she was not up to having kids around, no flag would be present. Even until the early 1960s the Union Jack would fly on the odd day.

Max & Sylva at Florence's

Craft time at Whippoorwill Cottage

During World War II, Maxine and her sister hung out with British airmen training at the Gimli Air Base, some of whom were billeted in South Beach.

After the war, on that same beach, Bill proposed to Maxine.Bill & Maxine

In some kind of prophetic vision, Percy bought a half acre lot at the corner of Hansson and South Colonization Rd in 1954 and moved his cottage from Benedict before the lake level rose. He died in South Beach in May 1967 while raking the lawn right in front of the Carter cottage (now Ward de Roo, 6 Hansson St.)  His body was found by Mrs. Evans, the owner of Evans Store just a few lots away (corner Anna and Hansson).

Percy W. Carter

Percy W. Carter

Maxine inherited the cottage and it was here that she and Bill lovingly hosted family and dear friends, enjoying many happy hours, long beach walks, deep theological reflection, laughter, games of Scrabble, Password and Dominoes around the Franklin stove. It was here that she got to spend the most time with her eight grandchildren. They will remember her as the most gentle, caring gramma any kid could ever wish for. She had that rare ability to genuinely listen to anything they wanted to tell her, and also to keep it just between them, a memory they each will cherish.

50th Anniversary Gimli

50th Anniversary of the cottage

Maxine’s life was deeply impacted by her Christian faith. Every Sunday found her in the choir loft at Broadway-First Baptist Church. In later years, she was music coordinator and elder at Willowlake Baptist Church. Even though she didn’t consider herself to be a public speaker, her willingness to share her faith in Christ opened doors to leadership and speaking engagements with Christian Women’s Club and many personal growth retreats with Faith At Work.

She was very active in volunteer service including Parr Street Mission, P.E.O. Sisterhood, Seniors Centre at First Presbyterian Church, Camp Shanti, Covenant Home, Inter-Varsity International Christmas, Baptist Women of Western Canada, letter-writing to missionaries and hosting them on furlough. As a double breast cancer survivor she shared her gift of mercy in volunteering for Reach for Recovery to help other women living with this disease.

Maxine was gentle, soft, kind, patient, generous, sincerely apologetic for any wrong, and keen to make amends. She was entirely without suspicion or malice. She never raised her voice in anger. She tried to accommodate any request and never said a word against another human being, practicing goodwill and tolerance. She loved people and wanted to bring joy and comfort into their lives. She welcomed folks around her table with delicious food and deep conversation. Her gifts of mercy and compassion were exercised while listening to young people and countless hours on the phone offering her support to friends. She always left the house beautifully coiffed and dressed, which helped her feel good, especially during her dark times and struggle with cancer. Her example encouraged you to be the best you could be.

Her marriage to Bill, for over 50 years, was a beautiful example of love, forgiveness and “being there” for each other. As helpmates they complimented each other’s gifts. She was the best wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and friend anyone could ask for, and was always willing to help in anyway she could. Though she herself would not boast, she was a model of discipleship, unconditional love and acceptance, a listening ear and a tender embrace.

Maxine is survived by her children; Doug (Meredith) of Kanata, ON, Don (Sheri) of Winnipeg, MB, Evelyn (Bert) of Petrolia, ON. And the very best grandmother to; Lydia (Kevin), Jennifer, Laura (Peter John), Katie (Tom), Meghan (Paul), Cameron (Angela), Lukas and Matthew. And great-grands Carter, Jacob, Maya, Jadon, Brienna, Benjamin and Ezra.

You are invited to a Celebration of Life, June 15, 1:30PM at Willowlake Baptist Church, 45 Willowlake Cres, Winnipeg.

submitted by Evelyn Ward de Roo