This Week At City Hall: Water For Sale, Cemeteries Group Dead, So Should More Mosquitos (Be Dead, That Is)

Lots going on at city hall this week but first, the excuses:

Okay, for the seven or so of you who regularly read TWACH, apologies that I’ve let it slide of late, but…. (choose the one that makes you forgive me the fastest):

1. I’ve become addicted to Heartland.
2. Ever since the rains came, I’ve been too busy bailing.
3. I asked my daughter to fill in for me for a few weeks. But she says she’s “five” and she “doesn’t know how to write.” Oh, well thanks. Now she tells me.
4. Everything is fine in Regina. You do not need to know what city hall is doing. Go about your business.
5. Dingos ate my favourite blogging hand.
6. Two words: Cocktail Armageddon.
7. I’ve been too despondent over the slow demise of the Cemeteries Departmental Consultative Group.
8. I’ve been up to my armpits in poopy diapers.
9. You convinced me, John Q Public. City hall is boooooo-o-o-o-oring.

And now that that’s out of the way….

Monday, July 4
CITY COUNCIL (5:30 pm): The administration is recommending we sell city water to a mining company so they can make potash stew. Nope. Not making that up.

See, Western Potash Corporation is setting up a solution potash mine near the town of Gray and they’re hoping Regina will supply them with treated wastewater for their operations. How much water? 34 million litres a day that would otherwise be discharged into Wascana Creek .

Why is the city pondering this project? According to the report:

This initiative directly supports [the City of Regina’s] 2012 Strategic Focus “Optimizing our Resources through Innovation”. It would be environmentally/politically positive to recycle treated wastewater instead of using valuable treated drinking water for an industrial purpose. Selling recycled water would be innovative and a new long term revenue source for [the City of Regina], which would position [the City] to close the “infrastructure gap” significantly.

In short, there’s money to be made.

(An aside: It’s curious how the report says selling this wastewater is a preferable option to the mine using “valuable treated drinking water for an industrial purpose.” Earlier in the report, it’s noted that Western Potash is only considering two supply options: getting wastewater from Regina or getting raw water from the province. Nowhere — that I can find anyway — does it say they were ever planning to use treated drinking water.)

As for the impacts of removing all this water from the water cycle, the report is vague….

The supply of recycled water to WPC’s mine would reduce the volume of treated effluent to half of what is currently being discharged by [the City of Regina] into Wascana Creek. The reduction in volume will have both positive and negative environmental impacts to Wascana Creek and the downstream Qu’Appelle River and lake system. From WPC and [the City of Regina’s] perspective, the use of recycled water instead of highly treated drinking water for WPC’s mining operations would be viewed as a “green” initiative.

(There’s that “instead of highly treated drinking water” line again.)

So, not putting wastewater back into the water system will be a “green” initiative, city admin opines. And yet nowhere in their report do they enumerate the negative environmental impacts they allude to. Here’s an initiative for you: designating that big honking omission a “red” flag.

Ultimately, the report leaves way too many unanswered questions. For instance, what happens to the water after the mine is done with it? Will it get flushed back into the water system? Will it be treated? Will it just disappear? How will this impact people downstream on the Qu’Appelle River system?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. But I’ll take a stab at answering one.

Why could piping all this water into a mine be a problem? Well, it’s always been my understanding that our treated wastewater is soon-to-be-valuable drinking water for somebody downstream. Can’t imagine how 34 million litres a day going missing won’t have a negative impact somewhere down the line. But, hey, I’m no expert.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see which, if any, concerns get addressed by council.

Also on the agenda, another new subdivision transit won’t be able to service because it’s out on the outskirts of town is up for consideration, as is a three-storey office tower in Harbour Landing and a shopping complex/office building at 3426 Tregarva Dr. Council will also be looking at allocating $100,000 to conduct a community investment review and they will be considering disbanding the aforementioned Cemeteries Departmental Consultative Group (the bastards! now how will we decide where to bury our dead?).

Finally, Councillor O’Donnell will be bringing forward a motion to have the city invest another $500,000 in mosquito control. I can, as I type, hear one of the little, bloodsucking fuckers buzzing around my room. I’d gladly pay half a million right about now to make it dead.

Tuesday, July 5
FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION COMMITTEE (4 pm): The 2010 Public Accounts are being released which means you can play “See How Much Everyone I Know Who Works For The City Makes”. Exciting! Best employee title: Entomology Research Analyst. (Bugs are cool.) Most curious: Bottomman. Recipient of the biggest operating/capital grant: Evraz Place at $11,217,529. Number of Rainbow Youth Centre grants that will fit into Evraz Place’s: 205.5. Number of Globe Theatre grants that will fit into Evraz Place’s: 93.5.

Well, there’s a long overdue TWACH in the bag. I’ll try to get another one done next Monday. No guarantees. But, hey! You don’t really need me running through what’s going on at city hall every week because you can always download complete meeting agendas and reports on your own. Where? you ask. Why, on the City of Regina’s website: where they awkwardly shoehorn the “fun” into infunormative!

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5'10'' tall and he was born in a place. He's not there now. He's sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It's "Girl From Ipanema", thanks for asking. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

2 thoughts on “This Week At City Hall: Water For Sale, Cemeteries Group Dead, So Should More Mosquitos (Be Dead, That Is)”

  1. Glad that TWACH is back! I am one of your seven or so devoted readers.

    As far as the content itself. Irritating as heck that the number of people making six figures has risen so much. All well and good for them, but I happen to know that the people not in management at the City are grossly underpaid compared to other municipalities and Fiacco is quoted as saying that wages have gone up across the board. BS. Our City is having huge problems attractig qualified people to do all sorts of neccessary things because the pay is so dismal. Nice to know that those at the top are being more than fairly compensated though.

    The transit issue goes back to chicken/egg question. There is a lack of adequate funding for transit, so the service sucks, so no one takes it, so there is no funding for transit, so the service sucks, etc etc.

  2. Welcome back TWACH!

    Re: potash mine report. Paul, I love love LOVE you! Red flag those omissions! Question that misleading wording! Show concern for the watershed’s other users! What would we do without you?

    Just change your addiction from the sweet family show Heartland to Torchwood and Mythbusters, then we can talk about our future together.

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