By Mark Squibb / July 28, 2023
Harbour Grace council last week approved a flat rate for businesses who wish to hook up to the town’s water at the local wharf.
Deputy Mayor Keith Skinner, chairperson of the Capital and Public Works Committee brought the motion forward during the July 17 meeting.
“Our committee met, and we want to make a motion to charge the Harbour Authority a flat rate of $500 per buyer per calendar year to cover the cost of providing water to their facilities” said Skinner, who said this was a similar approach to what other towns are taking.
Mayor Don Coombs spoke briefly to the motion.
“This is normal, this is common practise for municipalities throughout the province,” said Coombs. “So, for right now, that rate will be $500, and I understand that $500 will cover the cost for us doing business.”
He added everybody pays a water tax.
And though the flat rate was approved by all members present, the Town originally intended to charge per volume of water used.
During a meeting held on January 9, council approved a motion to install a water metre at the premises and charge a fee of $2.50 per 1,000 gallons. That fee was even incorporated into Budget 2023.
Councillor Terry Barnes was absent from that meeting, and at the next meeting, February 6, made his objections known.
Barnes, who works for the seafood company Barry Group Inc., which collects crab from the wharf, argued it would be impossible to police the water metre and instead suggested the Town work out a flat rate with businesses who use the wharf.
In a follow up interview with The Shoreline, he denied being in a conflict of interest on the matter, saying he didn’t stand to gain by the water metre being installed or not being installed.
Moving forward, however, Barnes declared himself in a conflict and stepped out of the room whenever the subject arose.
Barnes was not in attendance during last week’s meeting when the flat rate was approved.