PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte and Montreal Lake Cree Nation Chief Joyce Naytowhow-McLeod were in attendance at City Hall chambers during Council’s regular meeting on Monday, during discussion of a request from the Prince Albert Rural Water Utility (PARWU) Service to provide temporary water access to 101 homes on the Little Red River First Nation.
The City is expected to see a $12,217 reduction in revenue from rural water service users in the year 2023 with the motion’s approval.
Currently, 213 homes on the Muskoday First Nation receive water service from PARWU, but the community’s water treatment plant is expected to be fully operational prior to the end of 2022 and have asked for their service to be disconnected at that time.
According to an Oct. 24 correspondence from PARWU, the extension of services to Little Red will assist in offsetting the reduction of services to Muskoday.
“I support this motion 100 per cent,” said Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick. “Clean, safe drinking water should be a right of every Canadian citizen and every community should have clean, safe drinking water. If we have the capacity to provide this water service to this particular community, Little Red First Nation, we should do it and we should do it to any other community that needs and wants access to our safe drinking water here.”
Naytowhow-McLeod explained that Little Red is under her jurisdiction as Chief, and the community is in the process of building its own water treatment plant, which should be completed by summer of 2023.
A review by the Public Works Department found that in 2020, PARWU used only 6.23 per cent of all water produced by the City’s water treatment plant.
“The treatment plant can support more than double the amount of water used by the PARWU without impacting the services to the City of Prince Albert,” read the report. “Increasing potable water sales and water production will provide increased revenues and allow the more efficient operations of the treatment process, therefore the addition of the Little Red First Nation to the PARWU can be easily accommodated and will only have positive effects on the WTP operations and revenue.”
Coun. Ted Zurakowski asked if the City was willing to also provide water service to other neighbouring communities in the future now that there is talk of opening a new water treatment plant just outside of Prince Albert.
“As far as our ability, we’re more than capable of supplying ourselves, our future, and all of our neighbours,” replied Wes Hicks, Director of Public Works. He revealed that the City of Prince Albert’s water treatment system is only at 49 per cent capacity since the construction of the new Raw Water Pump House was completed in Sept.
Zurakowski said it doesn’t make sense that taxpayer dollars would be used to potentially build a new water treatment plant if the City already has the capability to service other nearby communities.
With Council’s approval of PARWU’s request on Monday evening, the City of Prince Albert plans to provide water to over 100 homes on the Little Red River First Nation.