In response to the article in The Morning Star, where the NORD board states that the heavy water user will pay more for their water, they are not telling the whole truth. The heavy water users are the farmers and most of them are hobby farmers.
The farmers use 75 per cent of our water and pay 0.04/m3, while we, the normal household users, use 25 per cent of the water and pay 0.92.m3. The cost to produce the water is 0.56/m3. When Vernon and District Irrigation came to be, it was installed for the farms in the area at the time. These farms were very large and the farmers depended on the farms for their livelihood. They needed the water and everyone benefited from the farms in the area.
Today it is different. Most of the farms in the area are hobby farms, they get a deduction on their property taxes, some of them can write off their expenses on their income tax, some of them don’t pay HST on their equipment (shovels, irrigation supplies, etc.) and they pay .04 per cubic metre for water.
I think, as most of the farmers in our area do not make a living off their farms, they should be paying a fair price for the water they use. Even, if they were paying the cost of producing the water, which is approximately 0.56/m3. We are looking at a 21 per cent increase in our water rate while the farmers are looking at a five per cent increase in their water. How is this fair?
If, as Mr. McNabb said, the people who use the most water should pay the most for their water, then why are the farmers getting off with only a five per cent increase? This means that their water bill will go from 0.04/m3 while ours will go from 0.92/m3 to as much as 1.24/m3.
If you want to put it in its proper perspective, my hobby is gardening. My gardening provides as much benefit to Vernon and district as most the hobby farms do and we paid 0.92/m3 to 1.10/m3 last year for water, not the 0.04/m3 the farms did. We get no deduction for my hobby of gardening. We support the gardening centres of Vernon and area in a very large way. The only deduction on our property taxes is the homeowners and seniors grant (my husband is over 65). Because my hobby is gardening and we don’t live on an acreage, why do we pay more for water fro my hobby than the guy across the street or down the road?
If it is to be fair and the people who use the most water pay the most, then make it fair for everyone. Make the hobby farmer pay as we do, or at least half of what we do. How can increasing their bill by five per cent or 0.01/m3 and ours by 21 per cent or 0.30/m3 seem right? I think all the farmers who don’t make a living off the land should pay for their water like the other 75 per cent of the people do.
Now I hear that IHA wants a better filtration system for our water. We spent how many millions of dollars last year on our water and it’s only nice to look at and not 100 per cent safe to drink. Whose interest are they really looking after?