Town extends OCWA agreement

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Town council has agreed to extend the current Operation and Maintenance Services Agreement with Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) for another two years.

In a report to council, Acting CAO Wild Hass stated “the Ontario Clean Water Agency is a not-for-profit agency of the Crown. It is a licensed operating authority and has been operating the Town’s water and waste water facilities since 2014.

“OCWA’s operation and maintenance work is administered through a five (5) year fixed-price contract with the Town. Highlights of the current agreement include:

– Workforce necessary to run the plants/equipment;

– Ensuring compliance with EA and provincial legislation, including all regulatory reporting;

– Chemicals and procurement thereof;

– Sampling, lab analysis and procurement thereof;

– Vehicles;

– Administrative responsibilities, including staff training and certifications, succession planning, health and safety, etc.

The contract with OCWA also provides “added value” for the Town of Kirkland Lake, such as:

– Their close relationship with the Ministry and their staff;

– Facility Optimization Program;

– Expert support and technical knowledge of equipment;

– Financial and legal auditing on bi-annual basis;

– Procurement/purchasing power – cost savings to the Town;

– Emergency Response Team;

– Transfer of risk/risk mitigation (municipal responsibilities under the Standard of Care – Safe Drinking Water Act).

The KL contract is the primary reason that OCWA maintains a base of operations in KL that services the Northeast region. The economic impact of this is significant: approximately 17 staff call KL home and spend their dollars here and generate approximately $50,000 in property taxes; and KL companies benefit from corporate procurement that averages $100,000 plus annually (vehicle purchases above and beyond).”

Hass added staff would not recommend entering into a new long-term agreement but go with the extension for a number of reasons.

“A two year period will give the Town the time needed to complete and implement the Strategic Review currently underway. The results of the Review may lead to desired changes in our relationship with OCWA.

A two year period may see the entry of new players into the service field that may change the negotiating dynamic in the future.

A two year period will allow us to explore cost saving options with OCWA and re-define administrative procedures that may affect future contract negotiations.”

After the meeting Mayor Pat Kiely gave much praise to OCWA. “(They) have certainly been very cooperative and solved a lot of problems. We were in trouble when they took over and that is the reason (the original contract) was pushed through. OCWA without a doubt has been very successful. They are not for profit. I definitely feel very comfortable working with OCWA. They solved the brown water problem. We’ve had some serious equipment failures that they have been able to get up and running in a short time frame. The service has been there. They also bring a lot to the local economy.”

For his part OCWA’s Regional Manager Eric Nielson says they are pleased “that Kirkland Lake town council is happy with the water and wastewater services that we provide. OCWA will continue to work closely with town staff and council to seek improvements, efficiencies and savings, while providing excellent services to the community.”

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