Well water or city water? Residents are to be given a choice, Belleville council says

Well-water Belleville residents will be seeing new city water pipes being built throughout the city, and must decide if they’re going to stay on wells or hook in and pay the price tag. Emma Persaud photo

With upcoming builds and new housing developments underway in Belleville, new septic lines are being put in to accommodate both new and old residents.

And the city is asking residents of old and new properties alike to help foot the bill.

The Connection Charge Bylaw, first created in 2019, made it mandatory for existing properties to hook up and pay for connecting; it was brought back to council on Feb. 12 by Councillor Carr.

He said telling people they had to join the city water lines – and pay for it – was “too big of an ask” and presented a new bylaw to council during their Feb. 26 meeting.

Being on a well-water system is common for many of the more rural areas of Belleville, and Ward 2 Councillor Kathryn Ann Brown said that many well-based homeowners bought their property with wellwater in mind. By joining the city line, residents have access to consistent water that has been tested for any contaminants and cleaned, as well as pipeline removal for waste water rather than septic tanks that need to be emptied.

In the new bylaw, no resident is obliged to hook up to the city lines and can stay on their well system. If they choose to join the city water lines, however, they will be responsible for the cost of connecting to it as well as any contract work that needs to be done for a proper connection. This work can come to cost roughly $12,000, according to StatCan’s most recent Construction Price Statistics, and the bylaw states it can be paid in full or over the course of 10 years.

While most council members supported the amendments, Councillor Thompson disagreed. He said it would cost more in the future to connect people to the city lines, as prices continue to rise across all services.

“If we delay it, then someone else will pick that cost up. I can’t see why the city can’t do this right now and say: ‘Look we only want the connection charge,’” he argued. “We’re here to make the best for the city but also look after our taxpayers.”

He added that the community members he has spoken with support the septic line and contributing to its costs.

“I spoke to three community members and all three said they have no problem with the idea of the line and paying for it over the course of 10 years,” he said.

Councillor Tyler Allsopp said his conversations with residents have been very different.

“I’ve had calls from residents in Wards 1 and 2.” Allsopp said. “I think we are overburdening the taxpayer for something that’s no fault of their own. It’s not the right time with all the costs we are seeing….to be asking citizens to take this on.”

In voting, all councillors but Thompson supported the amended bylaw. As the line construction reaches new areas, property owners can expect a letter letting them know of their opportunity to connect and guiding them through the process, along with any fees involved.

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