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Gloves come off in county water debate

Posted on February 23, 2016 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Tim Kalinowski
Dunmore was ground zero for a major debate on Cypress County council last Tuesday as councillors did not pull any punches on the allocation of water rights within the community.
Central to the debate were once again councillors Garry Lentz and Dan Hamilton, who already were at each other at the Feb. 2 council meeting about the same issue. What added to the hard hitting nature of last week’s debate was the fact Cypress County staff returned a report last Tuesday that revealed there was currently water enough to allocate 58 connections in Dunmore or to spread out the equivalent amount among the members of local rural water co-ops.
Lentz is a strong supporter and organizer for the fledgling Cypress Rural Water Co-op. Hamilton is a strong proponent for urban development, especially in his home community of Dunmore.
The tension between the two was heightened by the fact that Hamilton made a motion to send most of those water connections to new housing development in Dunmore while Lentz insisted council wait for the rural water co-op engineering reports due to come before council at the end of February, (See more details in the Feb. 9 Courier about this debate).
“Contrary to what some may think Dunmore is not the centre of the universe. I can remember when there were only six houses in Dunmore, and it has grown considerably, but we have a huge population in our rural areas that we need to not treat as second class people either,” said Lentz.
The complication last Tuesday was council was not at full strength when Hamilton made his motion. Coun. LeRay Pahl was absent and Coun. Dustin Vossler was not present for the vote due a fire call out in Seven Persons. Both are involved directly in agriculture and generally have those concerns strongly in mind in their decision making process.
Reeve Darcy Geigle did try to convince council to table the vote until a future date after the Dunmore Drainage Plan could be adopted, but Hamilton pushed the issue and stood by his motion to give 40 of those potential connections to housing developers in Dunmore, the main beneficiary of which is Wilde Possibilities Ltd.
“We are getting development going (in Dunmore by this allocation). We are getting things going… For the water co-op out there, everybody has the right to get water; that’s not an issue. Where we’ve got to watch what we are doing is these people who moved out into these areas, moved out there with the intention they are going to haul water to where they are moving to.”
Lentz took offence to Hamilton’s statement.
“My great grandparents came over in 1902 and 1903 and homesteaded in this  area. They dug wells by hand. They are the type of people that made this County what it is through their sacrifices and hardship. I am not involved in any kind of construction that digs basements or builds roads. I don’t own any businesses in Dunmore, (Hamilton is president of Saamis Moving & Storage), so I have no reason to promote development in Dunmore ahead of any other area.”
Hamilton retorted.
“I am talking about the acreages Garry,” replied an exasperated Hamilton. “I am not talking about the homesteaders from 200 years ago. Let’s get realistic. We want to cut down on fragmentation out in agricultural land. With the water co-op out there, we are going to have more acreages. I don’t disagree with it, but you (farmers) are the ones that say you don’t want fragmentation. Now you are saying you want to get this co-op going. It’s kind of contradicting itself.”
Reeve Darcy Geigle called for a recorded vote on the issue. Hamilton’s motion passed 4-3 with Couns. Oster, Hamilton, Squire and Belyea voting for the motion and Reeve Geigle and Couns. Mudie and Lentz voting against.

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