Sarnia mayor wants ‘proper representation’ on water supply board

The Lambton Area Water Supply System facility in Sarnia. July 2021. (Photo by Google Maps)

Sarnia’s mayor thinks it’s time to “shake up” the voting system on the Lambton Area Water Supply System (LAWSS) Board of Management.

The board, which has representation from each of its six municipal members, is presenting a report detailing $135 million in capital projects Monday.

Currently, city councillor Margaret Bird is the only member on the board from the city, and Mike Bradley believes the city should have more control.

“I have great concerns that the city, which is the biggest user of the plant at over 70 per cent, does not have proper representation based on our usage,” said Bradley. “I think that needs to be part of any commitment to be involved in funding these projects.”

Bradley said the make up could be similar to county council and include one or two more councillors.

“It used to be that the city had control because we are the biggest user, and over the years as other people (municipalities) joined we’ve lost that control. So, I think one of the things we should be saying to the Lambton Area Water Supply System group is, ‘we’re willing to look at financing over a 20-year period, but we want control of that financing and we also want proper representation on that board.’ Which is just fairness. The biggest user should have proper representation on that board as it relates to the voting system.”

Bradley said equality on the board, based on usage, would also recognize the eventual growth of other Lambton municipalities.

“Yes, our usage will probably fall back as more county communities come on board. But, we are the biggest users at this point and we should have proper representation especially when the dollars that are being asked for are big dollars that would impact on the taxpayers, the users of the system, for years to come.”

The 20-year, $135 million plan, includes critical infrastructure renewal and improvements to support region-wide growth and services.

The city would be responsible for its share, amounting to about $27 million, which is approximately 60 per cent of one third of the total cost.

It’s anticipated senior government funding would cover the remaining two thirds of the cost.

LAWSS is asking city council to support a joint funding application that it said will not impede the city’s ability to apply and secure grant funding for similar projects.