Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit May 25, 2016 - 2:15 pm

Waterless Wednesdays saved $62,000 over six months: Iqaluit administrator

City reduced debt by $6 million in 2015, not including aquatic centre obligation

THOMAS ROHNER
John Maberri-Mudonyi, the City of Iqaluit's director of corporate services, told Iqaluit City Council May 24 that the Waterless Wednesdays policy saved the city $62,000 over six months. (PHOTO BY THOMAS ROHNER)
John Maberri-Mudonyi, the City of Iqaluit's director of corporate services, told Iqaluit City Council May 24 that the Waterless Wednesdays policy saved the city $62,000 over six months. (PHOTO BY THOMAS ROHNER)

The City of Iqaluit saved nearly $62,000 over the six-month life of its controversial Waterless Wednesday policy, according to numbers that city administrators presented at a May 24 council meeting.

John Maberri-Mudonyi, the city’s director of corporate services who crunched the numbers, said that represents a saving of nearly 20 per cent, compared with the same six-month time period last year.

Starting in August 2015, the city stopped delivering trucked water on Wednesdays to 510 buildings — including nearly 333 residences — that are not connected to the water utilidor.

Water delivery on Wednesdays cost residents or businesses an extra $250 if they requested a special trucked water delivery on that day of the week, according to the policy.

A public outcry ensued as residents struggled to adapt.

Matthew Hamp, director of public works, defended the cost-saving measure at a council meeting in September 2015.

More than 40 per cent of the city’s water and sewage budget is spent on trucked water service, which only 11 per cent of Iqalungmiut require, Hamp said at the time.

But councillors gave voice to residents’ frustration over the policy at a council meeting on April 26.

Coun. Joanasie Akumalik presented a petition at that meeting with the signatures of 150 people who demanded an end to the Waterless Wednesdays policy.

Coun. Terry Dobbin, at the same meeting, said: “It’s a matter of health. It’s a matter of sanitation. It’s a basic human right.”

And Coun. Kuthula Matshazi said the practice of charging some residents more than others for access to water amounted to “segregation.”

But, based on numbers presented May 24 by Maberri-Mudonyi, the policy clearly saved the city money.

From September to December 2015, the city saved more than $42,000, according to Maberri-Mudonyi: about $11,000 in casual salaries and overtime, and over $31,000 in vehicle fuel, repairs and maintenance.

According to the director of corporate services, the city saved another $19,000 in the first three months of 2016: over $12,000 in savings on casual salaries and over time, and another $6,300 in vehicle repairs and fuel.

City councillors heard more good financial news later on in the May 24 meeting.

Coun. Romeyn Stevenson, chair of the city’s finance committee, recommended that council accept the city’s 2015 audited statements.

Those statements show that the roughly $8-million net debt that the city carried at the end of 2014 has been reduced by $6-million to about $2-million by the end of 2015, Stevenson said.

The statements, not made public yet, do not include the $17-million debt associated with construction of the aquatic centre, the deputy mayor said.

Mayor Madeleine Redfern said the audited statements would be posted on the city’s website once council approves the statements.

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