Thanks to several thousand people who took the time to sign a piece of paper, voters in Moose Jaw will be able to cast a ballot on how the controversial cast iron water main replacement will be paid for.
On Monday night Moose Jaw City Council accepted a report validating the petition passed around over the past two months, by a group against the Local Improvement Project funding model. That model would have affected residents pay about a third of the total cost, approximately $7,400 for an average lot.
The referendum vote will happen in conjunction with the municipal election in October.
There were more than 7,300 signatures on the petition, but after a statistical analysis 6,814 signatures were deemed valid. Some people had signed twice or were not from Moose Jaw, but there weren’t enough of those in the sample group for the consultant who created the report to toss out the petition.
Terry Gabel helped to start the movement and he spoke at the council meeting, saying support for the petition is undeniable.
“This is more than 20% of the population of the city. The act allows 90 days to gather the signatures and we used 65. The support for the petition and the opposition to the LIP is undeniable.”
Councillor Don Mitchell attempted to keep the referendum from happening by trying one last time to have the LIP scrapped at the Monday meeting.
“I would move that city council adopt the petition motion that sewer and water main replacement be funded through general revenues and/or reserves and not from special assessments through the Local Improvement Program.”
Council rejected that motion 3-4, with many councillors saying that with so many people working hard to collect the petition signatures they wanted to see how the vote would end.
A motion to hold the referendum passed and city administration will now work on the ballot question that should be revealed in about a month.
Moose Jaw City Council had already approved the funding model for the replacement. Work on the water mains has already begun.