Allowing second water meter not precedent setting says Mayor

On October 15th, 2019, Mark Gdak made a Delegation to the Committee of the Whole to request a second water service on his property to provide radiant-in-floor heating in his garage, which would require an exemption to the Town’s Water Connection By-law.

Staff, in a report at the October 28th Council meeting, recommended that the request be denied.

Gdak’s cottage on Saugeen Beach Road currently has water service however, the property is bisected by a water-course and, therefore, to service the garage from the house would entail excavating under the water-course.

According to Gdak, to attempt to drill now would require a fracking plan, a massive expense and the replacement of the entire garage floor system at estimates that run over $80,000.

According to town staff, the under-excavation situation is fairly common and Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (SVCA) would issue a permit for the work. Gas services, telecommunications services are often done in this way by local contractors says the staff report.

Therefore, staff said that a crossing could be carried with sending and receiving pits outside the buildings and that radiant in-floor heating is also a closed system that does not need a continuous supply of water. The water service would come into the building or be connected as needed by a plumber to a service drilled outside to a connection point.  The other alternative would be to use a hose from the main house for water as needed for things like vehicle washing or to top up the water in the heating system.  The cost would be to charge the property owner based on consumption plus two capital charges at $91.76 per month.  A third option is to install a sand point system with filter to provide non-potable water for the heating systems.

Town staff concern is that the garage with potable water would be used as a secondary suite which is not allowed within the zone.  This has historically been an issue that Council has strongly been against and would set a precedent for other ‘inconvenient’ installations. In addition, a future purchaser may not want the additional cost which may result in the town having to remove or cap the service.

Councilor Dave Myette said that, after reading the report and having heard Gdak speak to Council previously, he disagreed with the report and its rationale that the owner could possibly set up a secondary suite in the garage.  “The town is in the business of selling water and the more people that are hooked up, the more the costs are shared. I don’t agree and, if he’s willing to pay the monthly fee to have the water supply, I support that.”

Vice-deputy Mayor Mike Myatt however, said that Council should be very cautious.  “Two water meters, two houses potentially on the one lot could set a dangerous precedence and we should be very careful unless we want to re-visit our zoning by-laws.”

Mayor Luke Charbonneau agreed with Councilor Myette.  “I don’t see any difficulty if Mr. Gdak wants a second water service and is willing to pay for it.  Under the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS), secondary suites are permitted on all lots in Saugeen Shores so we can’t deny them anyway.  Frankly, from an affordable housing standpoint, it’s a good thing.  This will not set a precedence as Council will decide at its discretion at will, that if someone comes and wants a second water meter, Council may approve or deny.  If Mr. Gdak wants to pay the additional ninety-some dollars a month then we should let him.  Therefore, I vote against the recommendation.”

Council voted against the staff recommendation and is allowing the property owner to have a second water meter.