Recent History – 1999
Nov. 19, 1999, By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
Dawson Creek and Pouce Coupe are currently negotiating the way the water service will be provided to Louisiana-Pacific’s new veneer plant.
“Both Pouce Coupe and Dawson Creek councils have been, and still are, in negotiations regarding the waterline and sale of water between the two communities,” said a press release issued jointly Thursday by the village and the city. Under construction at the corner of Highway Two and Snake Pit Rd., the plant rests on land that was owned by the city prior to being sold to L-P.
But the waterline closest to the plant is owned by the Village of Pouce Coupe, which, until now, has been used strictly to service homeowners in Pouce Coupe. That, and the fact that the pumphouse and water meter used to calculate the volume going to the village lies between the plant and the airport, has created some complications.
A few weeks ago, the city awarded a $86,000 contract for construction of a waterline to L-P that takes a longer route and ties into the city-owned watermain. The contract was for the portion of the waterline that is on city land. L-P was to pay for its own portion. However, Lekstrom said, that contract has been cancelled in favour of negotiations that examine the whole issue of water delivery to L-P and Pouce, and some empty city-owned lots between the L-P plant and the airport for when they are developed in future. When completed, it should permit L-P to construct a shorter line, tying into the line now owned by Pouce Coupe.
The press release was issued in response to concerns being raised by Dawson Creek mayoral candidate Bill Kusk and council candidate John Calderwood.
“Does council have the right to negotiate a different rate?” Kusk asked in a letter sent to the Peace River Block Daily News. “Yes, they do, but it should be done in the open, so it is clear to all residents and businesses who is getting the short end of the stick.”
Calderwood, meanwhile, said in another letter to the PRBN that nothing has been said in council chambers about the negotiations, yet council members seem to know what’s going on.
“So if it’s happening, how’s it happening?” he said.
But Mayor Blair Lekstrom is remaining tight-lipped about the details, arguing that, like in any negotiation, he can’t say publicly what’s exactly on the table.
“To imply that we go at this type of dealing through the media is the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard,” he said, adding that he has a mandate from council for these negotiations.
However, Lekstrom said that L-P won’t be getting an unfair break on water rates as a result of the deal, and that the city will supply the water to the plant.
“L-P pays for the hook-up,” he said. “Is Pouce selling them the water? No,” he said.
Lekstrom indicated that the negotiations may change the water rates for Pouce Coupe as well as the waterline itself. Currently, Pouce Coupe residents and commercial water haulers pay 2.85 cents per cubic foot of water compared to 1.65 cents for Dawson Creek residents, and 8 cents for rural residents who pick their water up from a facility in the city. All of those rates, the mayor said, are evaluated on a regular basis to reflect the real cost of water and the distribution of it.
The higher rate for out-of-town water users, Lekstrom said, is to pay for their share of the city-owned water utility, like the waterline, reservoirs and water treatment plant.
Lekstrom said that negotiations are close to being completed, and the new arrangement must be ratified by both councils before it comes into effect.
“We want to get something that is good for Dawson Creek, good for Pouce, and good for everybody else,” he said.