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Moose Jaw water main referendum petition surpasses signature goal

A rusted cast iron water main sits in Moose Jaw City Hall. Eighty kilometres worth of these are between 60 and 110 years old and need to be replaced. Derek Putz/Global News

When Moose Javians go to the polls on October 26, they may also decide how the city pays for a multi-million dollar infrastructure project.

On June 29, Citizens Advocating Sensible Taxation, CAST, submitted a petition to have a referendum on how Moose Jaw will pay for cast iron water main replacement.

The payment method for the much needed project has been a longstanding issue in “The Friendly City.”

City council voted in favour of using a Local Improvement Project (LIP) funding model in April, which would see the city pay for 70 per cent of the replacement and affected property owners pay 30 per cent.

This didn’t sit well with the people who started CAST and in May, they launched their referendum petition.

READ MORE: Petition launched to get water main referendum included in Moose Jaw election

The proposed referendum question is “that the City of Moose Jaw’s replacement of water and sewer mains be funded from general city-wide revenues and/or the reserve funds, and not from LIP special assessments.”

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“We probably had close to 100 different volunteers working through it, plus we had 25 some locations that had petitions in their facility, and their staffs were a great help in making sure people signed it,” CAST member Ian Clothier said.

CAST needed about 3,500 signatures on the petition and gathered 7,103 as of Monday afternoon. Now the city clerk’s office will work to verify that the signatories are eligible Moose Jaw voters or property owners.

Clothier said about 10,000 people voted in Moose Jaw’s last municipal election and feels confident about their chances on the referendum.

Before the referendum is officially added to the ballot in October, it needs council approval. This is expected to happen in the next 30 days.

Under the current LIP funding model affected property owners pay about $170 per frontage foot of their property for the water main replacement.

According the the City of Moose Jaw, the average lot size is 44 feet, and this would result in an estimated bill of $7,471.

Property owners could either pay this amount in a lump sum, or add it to their property taxes over 20 years.

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