Sparks flew at Woodlands County’s Council meeting this week, with frustrated residents making their voices heard.
About 50 people in attendance challenged Council, interrupting Tuesday night’s meeting. Residents questioned Councillors on what they plan to do now that the Water and Wastewater Agreement with Whitecourt is in the process of being terminated.
County resident Brandon Anderson says residents laid out their fears and frustrations to Mayor Ron Govenlock and his Council, saying that the County has not let them know about any future plans with water.
“We went to the meeting in a very organized way to say ‘what is plan B?'”, Anderson said, adding that residents had previously been told by Mayor Govenlock at last month’s public forum that Council had a plan.
Now Anderson says, there is no plan. “Now that Whitecourt is shutting off the water, what are we doing now as our own Woodlands to ensure that we’re protected, and they don’t have a plan B.”
Leaving the Council meeting with more questions than answers sparked more fear in County residents, and Anderson says that will affect homes and businesses across the area. The father of four is now wondering if he needs to dig a well for his water supply if a plan is not drawn up.
He added that many people want to see a new cost-share agreement deal made between Woodlands and Whitecourt because the repercussions of having no agreement in place are far too risky.
“The partnership between both communities working as one region has allowed for economic growth to occur, especially in our current climate. This is a regional issue and to hinder that [growth] it’s going to hurt everybody.”
With negotiations now at a standstill and communication lacking, Anderson says residents are losing faith in both Councils to get a deal made.
“Having somebody tell you on numerous occasions that they have a plan or they’re going to get back to the negotiating table and time and time again we see that fail, and we see them not doing what they’re going to say, it is a breeding ground for mistrust.”
Going forward, Anderson says residents would like to see both Town and County Councils work harder at finding a solution and coming up with an agreement in a respectful manner, even if that means having new people at the negotiating table.