It’s time the Province takes the proverbial bull by the horns to help the Kneehill Water Services Commission out of its crisis.
Saddled with $1.2 million in debt in addition to $12 million owing on an original debenture, the Commission has been forced to charge its customers some of the highest water rates in the province.
Despite those exorbitant rates, which are about three times higher than Calgary’s, the Commission has struggled to operate under a balanced budget, reaching deficits of up to $500,000. And raising rates, the only solution left to the organization, hasn’t work either, as customers now use less water.
Repeated attempts to find a solution have fallen on deaf ears. In fact, the Commission’s request for a financial review turned into a full-fledged investigation, complete with finger pointing and scolding. Last week, a provincial investigator presented his findings to the board just 60 minutes before making them public to a crowd of 100 concerned residents and officials. He came alone, with no government representative, and refused to answer any questions much to the disgust of attendees.
Obviously sent to do the Province’s dirty work, his employer, Municipal Affairs, left him out on a limb to face an angry, frustrated crowd of over-taxed customers.
Why is the government turning its back on the region, which is already struggling to maintain a healthy population? Does it want to create mega cities encircled by vast, inhabitable areas?
We don’t have the answers for these questions, but we do know that for the price of a single elementary school, the Province can retire all of the Commission’s debt, and do what countless expensive social programs can not - revitalize a sagging economy across an entire region.
Compared to some of the other nonsense this government spends on, we think it is a good bargain.
The purpose of government is to provide basic services at a reasonable price, and let the market take care of the rest. One can only hope this provincial government lives up to its responsibilities.