After releasing their water and wastewater survey and report in June, North Hastings Community Trust presented their findings to Bancroft council.
“I feel like council received it well,” Community Organizer Jo-Anne Reynolds says. She adds that she’s happy with how the presentation and thanks the “brave and courageous” Brenda Johnson who spoke about how the high water and wastewater rates have affected her.
In November, council approved a zero-percent rate increase for wastewater this year, with a three-percent raise coming next year. Mayor of Bancroft Paul Jenkins explains that deviates from the Watson Report which called for a five-percent increase from 2018 to 2020. He notes that 2020 will also see a three-percent raise. “We’ll continue to work to keep the rates as low as we can and lobby to see if there’s any help out there,” Jenkins tells My Bancroft Now.
Of the 19 questions asked on the survey, Reynolds says they specifically talked about question 18 during their presentation. The question was “What would you like your council to know about how the water/wastewater rates have affected you?” The answers in that section ranged from short answers saying the high rates have caused “stress” or that they’re “not happy” to longer answers detailing what they’ve had to cut back on because of the high bills.
“We weren’t happy about them,” Jenkins says of the high rates. “The situation with the wastewater plant goes way back and it goes through changes in provincial policy that happened once the plant was already under construction.”
Reynolds says a meeting with the Mayor has been scheduled and she is working with the team at Community Trust, which includes Director Jane Kali to create ideas for a strategy that the Town can work together with them on. “Our relationship with council and the mayor is very important,” Reynolds says. She adds that for the provincial government to take the community’s concerns seriously, Town council needs to have their backs.
Kali points out that they have gotten a lot of recommendations from the community about how to fix the water and wastewater rate situation, including from a town hall meeting that Community Trust held.
“They’ve heard us, they’ve heard the community,” Reynolds says.