About the Poll

    I didn't get my Voter Information Letter

    All of the Voter Information Letters have been mailed and should be received by property owners by now. If you didn't receive yours, or if you know someone who hasn't gotten their letter yet, please contact Pamela Myra at 902-275-3631 or email election@chester.ca.

    Will a majority vote be required to proceed with the Central Water System proposal?

    Yes, a majority vote is critical.

    Will my vote impact construction?

    The service area will be divided into zones. When you cast your vote, you will be asked to identify in which area you are located. If the Municipality proceeds with installation, this information will determine if there are any "priority" areas and could have a role in which parts of the Village are serviced first. One key area that has been identified already is the "Village T", which is the Pleasant Street/Queen Street section.

    Which properties are not eligible [to vote]?

    Water lots without a structure, and properties owned by the Municipality, Village Commission, and Province.

    What percentage of votes are required to make this happen?

    Council will use the information from the poll to guide their decision. They want to be clear that the Village does/does not want water.

    What happens after the vote?

    If results indicate no, nothing happens. The project does not proceed.  If results indicate yes, a pre-design is required. More information will be available. Grants from other levels of government will be available later.

    How are we reaching those who don’t live here year round?

    We are using direct mail and online options. Contact Pam to get information on how to vote/get their letter.

About the Proposed System

    Who is affected by the Central Water System?

    The short answer is: Properties within the Village of Chester boundary.

    The long answer is: There are a couple of options based on the water source. Depending on the source, certain properties outside the immediate boundary could be included in the service area. The Village of Chester boundary is included in all options, while the "add-on" properties depend on whether the source is groundwater or surface water.

    To view the Village of Chester boundary map, click here.

    What are the Service Boundaries ?

    Each suggested water system has a a different set of proposed service boundaries.

    Groundwater supply: all properties within the Village of Chester boundary plus the possibility of including a corridor from Middle River to Chester (trail) and Chester Shore Mall.

    Surface water supply: all properties within the Village of Chester boundary plus the possibility of including parts of Old Trunk 3 (Hwy #3 intersection to Bond Drive) and Chester Shore Mall.

    If we have central water, will fire hydrants be installed in the service area? If so, will there be a possibility for a decrease in house insurance for the properties in the service area?

    The cost of fire protection is included in both estimates; however, the provision of these services has yet to be decided. As of right now, we have been including it in discussions.

    The Municipality strongly urges residents to call their insurance brokers or providers and ask if there is a reduction in insurance premiums available. The information we have received so far has varied.

    If there is a power outage, will the Central Water System still provide services to those residences connected?


    Will pressure be a problem?

    Under normal circumstances, there shouldn't be a problem with pressure.

    How will I know that the water received to my residence from the Central Water System will be safe to drink?

    Once the Municipality assumes operation of a water supply, it is required, by law, to ensure the quality falls within the provincial public drinking water supply standards. We must test the supply regularly and perform strict maintenance on the equipment.

    Will I be able to use the Central Water System for non-potable reasons (ie. gardening, watering the lawn or installation of a irrigation system)

    Yes, unless the Municipality imposes restrictions due to drought conditions, etc.

    Has land acquisition on Spectacle Lake been factored as an asset towards the system?

    It is not factored in price of land so far.  With regards to the future, there has been no discussion.  Properties bought and paid for are through the general tax rate, and not toward the cost of the utility.  If we do not proceed, the properties will be discussed.

    1993 – 59% of residents said NO – Council continued to buy land – WHY?

    This issue was still being discussed in 1997, and beyond. Council was preparing for the future, if water was needed. 

    Is it the business district asking for this? The “T”?

    A lot of the business district has water problems, but so do homes in the Village core and boundary.

    The Village does need a water supply, but can we all afford it? I didn’t realize there were so many PID numbers in the Village. Are they big enough to build a home on? A lot of votes – a lot of tax? If homes are built on the properties, what about the extra load on the sewer system? If it is going to bankrupt some and chase out older residents, do we need to do that?

    There are 1100 taxable accounts. Once a water system is installed, regulations around lot size could change. As far as sewer, the entire proposed area is not serviced with sewer, only various areas.  That being said, we are looking at Wastewater Treatment Plant design and possible expansion.  Regardless of water, there is always the demand for wastewater.

    Have sites be identified for the plant for Spectacle Lake / Middle River?

    Sites have been selected over time. The current design (preliminary) identifies lots near the lake to be used.  Middle River sites are not defined as the hydrogeological assessment did not point out a specific property.  The Municipality has land in that area, and we would use what we have.   

    Has Council considered health concerns? A sewer break shut down a large area in Chester. Are they factoring in the other issues, such as minerals and other contamination?

    The driving force of this project is the reliable source of clean drinking water.

About the Cost

    What is the total cost of constructing the municipal water system and who pays for it?


    Overall, the estimated cost* of a surface water system (Spectacle Lake) is $45,742,000. The estimated cost* of a groundwater system (Middle River) is $47,921,000. This estimate includes fire protection (hydrants, reservoir, etc.) to the service area. We initially used the more expensive estimate when quoting prices so there wouldn't be any surprises.

    *results of a Class D estimate (-22.5% to +35%)

    If we proceed, the Municipality will apply for phased funding from other levels of government, up to 75% based on current funding models. We don't know how much the Provincial or Federal Governments will approve until we submit a funding application.

    The remainder of the capital costs will be paid for by property owners in the service area. One recommendation is payments over 25-years on property tax bills.

    Costs additional to those are connection fees and usage fees.

    If I own a piece of vacant land which can be serviced by central water, will I be forced to pay even though I am not connecting the property?

    If your property is within the service area, you are required to pay for the capital costs associated with constructing the system. You do not have to pay a connection fee or for usage if you are not connected.

    If the Central Water System is approved, will I still have to pay if I did not support the proposal?

    To make a system affordable, all of the properties within the service area boundary are required to share the capital costs.

    How much should I expect to pay for usage?

    Based on best practices of other municipal units, unit costs are based on maintenance and operation costs divided by the amount of treated water consumed. That unit cost is applied to the amount of water used. Any formula used to apply a utility rate is pending approval of the Utility and Review Board. Based on average use, we have speculated a treatment cost of $207/year if a surface water system is installed, and $76/year if a groundwater system is constructed. Additional costs for distribution will depend on the system size and are unknown at this time.

    Since government properties are not participating in the poll, are they exempt from paying for water?


    What if the $2,564 is not paid by who can’t afford to pay, plus annual fee, plus taxes, plus $1,609 financing?

    This will be included in regulations:  payment arrangements or disconnection.

    Have options for pro-rating been considered, since it is likely to cost less per property to distribute among smaller-sized lots (closer together = shorter runs)?

    Not at this point – it is a fixed amount per property.  The same cost per property is proposed, no matter the size.

    What are the (approximate) ratios of the costs for water supply and distribution?

    That can be found in Table 6.2 of the CBCL report.

    Will it cost $2,500 to connect one building? What about apartments with many hookups?

    Currently they are being treated as one connection – one line from road to building.  The building owner would be billed.  Matt looks at cost three ways:  main, connection, and usage.  Larger users could have different type/size meter.

    Has the calculation for a lump sum payment of capital charges been made?

    This hasn’t been discussed, but it could be a possibility.

    Being aware of our demographics, affordable housing is important, and rent is charged according to income. How will a central water system affect future affordable housing that we need in our community? If rent increases, it may be a negative for those seeking affordable housing.

    We don’t know right now. If don’t have answers, we will find them. 

    The price of infrastructure projects is never on budget. Has there been any consideration of the escalating costs for this project and how will it be mitigated?

    The estimates used in the calculations have factored in inflation. Contingencies are also included, which would help mitigate the unknowns. The estimates are also Class D, which could be 30% higher or 20% less.  If the design work proceeds, it will provide a more accurate estimate.

    In 2011, Spectacle Lake was considered as a water source, and the estimate was $13 Million. How can the cost have increased so much since 2011?

    That amount was from a KVM report estimate. The reasons for the difference is 1) that the scope of work is not the same as it only included areas serviced by sewer; and 2) the figure used did not include HST. In 2016, the previous Councillor asked for an estimate on a water system, and staff took that number and escalated it to represent current pricing.

    Should the vote be to go with a Class A estimate? In favour or not to proceed with design? We need a better idea of cost, but at what cost?

    If Council wishes to proceed, $1.7 Million is required for the design. 

    The interest is a substantial of portion to be paid; how secure is the interest rate for the term of the debt?

    We used calculations from CBCL, but we believe that the interest rate when it comes time to borrow may be less than the CBCL report. They may have estimated higher.

    Experience with government projects is that the estimates are over. The Class D estimate is very broad. Who is on the hook for the addition costs? If the government will fund 75%, as a resident, we are doubling our cost for the project.

    We have only been provided a Class D. If it is decided to proceed, more design has to happen.  The A estimate is a tender estimate plus/minus 10%.  That would be used in the funding application.

    There are two schools in the Village. Only 7% come from within the service area. That means 93% are outside of the Village who go to schools. Considering that, are those people in the outside districts being charged a water fee or tax of an amount annually to pay for the children who will use the water at school?

    Indirectly, we would charge the Centre for Education. The Province and municipalities currently fund centres for education.

    We have a water system at Chandlers Cove. Are we expected to contribute to capital costs for a water system that we have already incurred capital costs to do?

    Yes, Chandlers Cove is in the service area. 

About Funding

    Is 75% government funding 100% guaranteed?

    The percentage funded is locked in for an ICIP application, but may not be 75% - it is 73% if we are successful.  If we can’t get the funding, we will be responsible for the balance.

    Is the Municipal Government included in the 75% of government funding?

    No, that is provincial and federal.

    Could the Municipality contribute the remaining?

    Under the Municipal Government Act, municipalities have the power to spend money for a water supply. It would be council’s decision.

    Can money from reserves be used?

    It is possible, but it was not factored in the numbers handed out.  That would be determined by Council.

    Do we know before we vote that there will be Provincial and Federal funding?

    No. The application for funding will only happen after a detailed design can be provided.  There is no guarantee that the application will be successful. 

    Under NS Law, it is the Municipality who is responsible for safe drinking water systems within its jurisdiction. She agreed with the comment on affordable housing. The issue is housing without drinking water is not affordable. The responsibility of the Municipality to determine how much money they are willing to put into a water system.

    Municipalities have the power to put money into a water system, but there is no direction to do so at this time. We have power, but we are not mandated [directed to by law].

About Connecting

    If the central water system passes by my property, will I be forced to connect?

    You will not be forced to connect, but if you are within the service area, you are required to pay the capital costs for system installation. The connection fee is separate and averages $2,654. If we proceed, we have suggested a ten-year financing option for this, which would be $417/year.

    Do I need to connect to the Central Water System even if I have a good well?

    No, you do not.

    Can I get water later if I decide not to connect now?

    Absolutely! The design will include connections for all properties in the service area.

    What is the process by which I can get Central Water Service to my house?

    During construction, we will prepare for every property in the service area to be connected. Although we haven't decided on a definitive process as yet, it's expected that customers will complete an application.

    Will there be a water meter installed at my property? If so, who is responsible for maintaining it, and will I be charged for the meter?

    If you connect to the system, it is likely that we will install a meter to measure water usage. At this point, it hasn't been determined whether owners are responsible for equipment or not.

    For those who hook up and have wells, what happens to wells on those properties? Is there a cost of filling in the wells once central water is hooked up?

    Yes, if abandoned, the owner has to follow regulations and fill the well. The cost for doing that is not factored in the costs presented as that is the landowner’s responsibility.