Regina city council wraps up marathon meeting with focus on lead connector replacements

Regina city council finished up the second half of its marathon Nov. 25 meeting on Tuesday afternoon with a promise to  accelerate the replacement of the city's lead pipe connectors.

The hour-long meeting Tuesday wrapped up the agenda from the Nov. 25 council meeting, which was adjourned after the session stretched until 10:45 p.m. that night due to an extended discussion on dog parks.

At Tuesday's meeting, Mayor Michael Fougere filed a notice of motion to speed up the city's lead-pipe connector replacement.

The city had planned to do so over a 20-year period, but if the mayor's motion is successful at a later city council meeting, the replacements will be completed around 2025.

In the interim, the city has offered some households free water filtration systems as a temporary solution.

The proposed acceleration "will provide an incentive for homeowners who have lead in their water, if they have a connection on their side, to convert that over," Fougere said Tuesday.

"We want to make sure we get this done as quickly as possible, but at the same time I wanted to stress that we have lead-free water in our system as it comes into our city," Fougere added.

City administration says it estimates there are about 3,600 connectors to replace throughout the city, but the exact number of private residences which may need to replace connectors on their side of the line remains unclear.

Each replacement could cost $10,000 to $12,000, but like water main breaks, the cost is unknown until the replacement is actually completed, administration said.

The city will look at ways of lessening the burden of replacing the connectors for homeowners. It's expected the cost will covered on the city's side through utility rates.

"It will not be on the property tax bill," Fougere said.

Coun. Andrew Stevens introduced an amendment to extend the amount of time that free water filters are available to homeowners — currently two or three years — to the completion of the connector replacements.

Some homes may also have lead pipes, but Fougere said that will be addressed when the time comes.

A report from city administration is expected to be ready by March, but Stevens proposed it go to a meeting of the public works and infrastructure committee — which handles infrastructure matters — before going to city council.

Cemetery fees going up

Council also approved a hike in cemetery fees of about four per cent on Tuesday. The increases will come into effect in the new year at the city's two cemeteries, which it operates on a cost-recovery model.

City administration says over the last decade, more people are transitioning to cremation over interment because it is cheaper, resulting in less money coming in.

Increasing the fees will allow the cemeteries to carry on as usual.