Thanks to several thousand people who took the time to sign a piece of paper, voters in Moose Jaw will cast a ballot on how the controversial cast iron water main replacement will be paid for.
Moose Jaw city council accepted a report Monday night validating a petition passed around over the past two months by a group against the Local Improvement Project funding model. That model would have affected residents pay about a third of the total cost for the project, around $7,400 for an average lot.
The referendum vote will happen in conjunction with the municipal election in October.
While there were more than 7,300 signatures on the petition, a statistical analysis deemed 6,814 were actually valid.
Some people had signed twice, or were not from Moose Jaw; however, there weren’t enough of those in the sample group for the consultant who created the report to toss out the petition.
Terry Gabel helped start the movement and spoke at Monday’s council meeting.
“This is more than 20 per cent of the population of the city,” he said. “The act allows 90 days to gather the signatures and we used 65. The support for the petition and the opposition to the LIP is undeniable.”
Coun. Don Mitchell attempted to keep the referendum from happening by trying one last time to have the LIP scrapped at the Monday meeting.
“I would move that city council adopt the petition motion that sewer and water main replacement be funded through general revenues and/or reserves and not from special assessments through the Local Improvement Program,” Mitchell said.
Council rejected the motion 3-4, with many councillors saying that with so many people working hard to collect the petition signatures, they wanted to see how the vote would end.
A motion to hold the referendum passed and city administration will now work on the ballot question, which should be revealed in about a month.
Moose Jaw city council already approved the funding model for the replacement, and work on the water mains has started.