In 2006, the province of British Columbia passed the Drinking Water Protection Act, legislation drafted to ensure that all communities within the province have access to potable water which complies with strict standards. Currently, there are well over one hundred water systems across the province which do not comply with the Act, including some of our local systems.
Canal Flats is faced with two issues; there is not enough reservoir storage capacity either in the village or the Eagles Nest reservoir to provide adequate coverage in case of a fire and the Eagles Nest subdivision has been on a boil water advisory for over 10 years.Council is proposing a solution whereby a new reservoir will be built at an approximate cost of $800,000 and a 2.4-km pipeline be constructed from the reservoir to Eagles Nest at an approximate cost of $1.6 million. Approximately $400,000 of the cost of the pipeline can be offset with existing grant money earmarked specifically for providing potable water to Eagles Nest. This grant money must be returned to the provincial government if not used by March 31, 2014. These costs are preliminary and will be finalized by Focus Corporation prior to the voting process.
By unifying the Eagles Nest water system and the Canal Flats water system, the village will save an estimated $569,000 with the estimated joint cost of the two projects; the original plans called for the construction of a reservoir and water treatment facility above Eagles Nest. The annual operating costs will also be reduced by having to service and test at only one water source.
It is important to note that the proposed upgrades include growth projections for the next 25 years and that the original plans for upgrading the water systems independently would have cost approximately $2.6 million. Council has worked, with the help of Focus Corporation, to minimize the costs for both the capital project and annual maintenance. At the Town Hall water meeting on June 8th, both the engineer from Focus and the Interior Health representative agreed that councils proposal was the most fiscally prudent solution.
The most important question that needs to be asked is: What are the consequences if the village votes No to borrowing $2 million? The government, through the Health Authorities, has made it very clear that compliance is mandatory. The penalty section of the Drinking Water Protection Act for non-compliant communities include fines of up to $100 000 per day and to imprison municipal officials. Through the powers of the Act and the courts, the province can be granted ownership of a water system and then proceed with the needed upgrades with no local
Water users would then have parcel taxes imposed or user fees increased to cover these costs.In the case of Canal Flats, we would lose the grant money. Non-compliance is not an option.
In looking at other publicly owned water systems in our area that have released upgrade proposals, in every instance the annual costs per residential user will increase a minimum of $1 000 per year and in some cases over $2 000 per year over a 25 year period. Rushmere completed the upgrades to their water system approximately two years ago; the cost of the upgrade was levied as a parcel tax at a cost of $1,675 per year per residential lot over 25 years. Comparing the aforementioned increases to the estimated $293 annual increase that Canal Flats residents are facing and we can see that the village is in better shape than most other local communities.
As your village council we need and value your input. Please direct any questions or concerns to the village office so that council and administration can act in the best interests of our residents.Emails can be sent to email@example.com. You can also visit the village website at www.canalflats.com.
Submitted by the Council of the
Village of Canal Flats