Media Release

Comments by the Canadian Environmental Law Association concerning Bill 155, An Act respecting the cost of water and waste water services.

Feb 15 2002

Bill 155, An Act respecting the cost of water and waste water services, has received first reading in the Ontario legislature and the comment period expires today.

"Bill 155, as presently structured, will cause more harm than good", said Theresa McClenaghan, counsel with CELA. " it could actually prevent municipalities from incorporating the costs of measures to protect local drinking water sources into their local water rates," she stated.

Under this proposed Act, the local water system is only considered to be the "pipes and the pumps" notes CELA's brief. Rather than a broad definition of "full costs" that would allow communities to make progressive, sustainable decisions and plan for financing their safer, healthier systems, the province proposes to handcuff municipalities into charging only for a few components of the system.

"It's hard to understand why the government issued this Bill without waiting for the Part II report of the Walkerton Inquiry", noted Sarah Miller, CELA water coordinator. "Furthermore, the approach taken by Bill 155 doesn't even make sense for drinking water protection because it ignores protection of the sources of our drinking water."

In its brief, CELA called on the government to first develop a comprehensive provincial water policy and then to proceed with implementation. "Bill 155 is a backwards way to solve the problem," according to Richard Lindgren, CELA counsel. "Instead of a first step to deal with Ontario's woeful lack of water policy, Bill 155 will just make the system worse than it already is."

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For further information, please contact:

Theresa McClenaghan, CELA counsel 519-442-1589 or 416-960-2284 ext. 218
Richard Lindgren, CELA counsel 613-385-1686 or 416-960-2284 ext. 214
Sarah Miller, CELA coordinator 416-960-2284 ext. 213