Town of St. George warns water shut-offs will begin in April

St. George – If you live in St. George and are behind with your water bill, it’s time to get it paid up, or you could be slated for disconnection in April. Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of St. George Jason Gaudet said council has given the go-ahead to shut off water in the case of delinquent accounts. Previously, there had been a policy stating that no shut-offs could take place while in a state of emergency, both from the Province of New Brunswick, and the municipality itself.

“They removed that, saying that unless we are in Red, they can shut off the water,” said Gaudet. “Previously, what it was is not only did we have the state of emergency saying we couldn’t shut off water (from the Province of NB), and our own policy said in a state of emergency we can’t shut off their water.”

When the Province removed that policy a few months ago, the Town of St. George also amended their own municipal policy. Gaudet said there is no mention in any of the mandatory provincial orders that municipalities can’t perform water shut-offs for delinquent accounts. The only time that water can’t be shut off now is if the area or the Province goes back into the Red phase of recovery.

“They took that out I think back in November, so we’ve taken out our own policies saying that unless it’s Red, that we can shut-off in Yellow or Orange. So, that kind of puts that policy back into play for water shut-offs coming in April.”

In order to prevent water shut-offs, those with delinquent accounts are asked to have their bills paid no later than April. Gaudet said there are some accounts that are delinquent going as far back as 2018, and these are the accounts they will be looking closely at for disconnection of service. He said they are going to look at each account on a case-by-case basis.

When asked if they would allow payment plans, Gaudet said this is something that has been done in the past, but again, it will be on a case-by-case basis. If there are residents who have made payment arrangements in the past but have not kept their end of the deal, they will now be looked at for disconnection.

“We’ve allowed that, but up to that point, if they haven’t paid up then they could potentially be shut off,” said Gaudet. “We’ve done a lot of that in the past where they’ve said that they would, but it is going to be mostly case by case. Some of the people that said they would haven’t lived up to their obligation. If somebody comes back and says they want to do a payment plan, if they’ve already done it before but yet they’re still owing 2018 and 2019, we may say unfortunately the balance has to be paid in full.”

Gaudet said the Town doesn’t want things to get to the point where they are “standing on their doorstep” and they are asking if they can make a payment in order to avoid disconnection. He said they should be working on that now, and contacting town hall about getting their bills paid.

“If we’re standing on the doorstep, basically the only way to prevent us at that point, that day, will be full balance owing,” said Gaudet. “To avoid from getting into that situation where we’re suddenly saying we’re shutting the water off that day, they should be contacting the Town. They should be starting to pay some payments now. It’s unfortunate we’ve had to get to that. If it was other utilities like NB Power, there isn’t a whole lot of negotiating that goes on. You go three months behind on NB Power, you’re pretty much shut off until it’s paid. We kind of have to take that stance, just because we don’t want to get into the situation where there’s so much money owing.”

Water bill payments can be made in person at the St. George Town Hall, or over the phone at 755-4320 by credit card.

sarigreen@stcroixcourier.ca