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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – News originally surfaced back in March of this year where residents were having numerous issues with water meters in the City of Fort St. John and now, Fort St. John Mayor and Council are promising to review the current system in place.
The City of Fort St. John stated in March that they were working on completing the work needed to fix faulty meters in the City.
Another Facebook post appeared last week which showed a citizen that was concerned and frustrated over a bill she had received which had estimation amounts.
The post got the attention of the City of Fort St. John and Mayor Lori Ackerman as well as Council. At a Council meeting on Monday, Ackerman vowed a review would be coming.
“Staff notified me of the issue that was coming up on Facebook. Ms. McCreadie and I exchanged some messages back and forth and I went to her home and met with her. She provided me with some copies of her 2017 bills. I had a conversation with staff again on Friday morning.
It’s really clear that Council creates bylaw, we create policy and as you know, staff use reasonable interoperation to execute it. There was a clear, to me anyways, disconnect from Council’s intention to the execution. That means Council needs to address it.”
Ackerman said that after her meeting with the resident, she also received notes that the concerned citizen had come across some of her other bills and realized that there was a notice on her previous bills stating she needed to have her meter checked/replaced.
“She did recognize that. I think maybe even just how the invoice or how it goes out, the font or whatever case it may be, that be addressed moving forward.”
She also said the City should look at how homes and utilities are managed.
“For all we know, the water can be running in a vacant home, damaging the property. We need to understand that it is our responsibility to be fair and sustainable, as we created those principles when we first started talking about our water service many years ago.”
Council has directed staff to revisit the current bylaw in place and to bring back options on how a new bylaw would look and operate. Ackerman would like the information brought to a open Committee of the Whole meeting so the matter can be openly discussed.
Councillor Gord Klassen also suggested that there be a system where accounts are ‘flagged’ once they reach a certain amount so that the shock value is diminished to residents that receive large bills. Ackerman agreed.
“There has got to be a process in place where a notification is sent that there is an issue. There could be an issue there and then gets out of hand.”
City staff also added at the meeting on Monday that they are already in the process of reviewing the current bylaw to see what changes or adjustments could be made. They stated that they do roughly 140 appointments a month currently.
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