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Mayor's Message March 2018: Sechelt Water

Posted: 3 years 54 days ago

Water is essential to life, how we manage water determines our quality of life. Our water supply is managed through the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD). The SCRD sources the water, treats it and provides the infrastructure to our homes. The District of Sechelt Council’s role is two use our two seats on the SCRD board to support the interests of our citizens. And that is just what we are doing.

On December 6, 2017 Council unanimously passed a resolution that, “affirms that securing an adequate water supply…is the top priority of [the] District of Sechelt Directors,” and asked the SCRD ensure that, “all reasonable and expeditious measures be taken to secure an expanded water supply.”  Whether the board is acting fast enough or taking the right actions to meet our objectives is a matter of opinion.

The difference of opinion is illustrated in debates over the $5.5 million project for a permanent draw down of Chapman Lake. This will only be used when we reach stage 4 water restrictions: the highest level of water restriction. Sechelt Council views this as a drought management project. In any case, permits required from the Province have not been obtained and the project is on hold. Some people, including MLA Nicholas Simons, think the Province will not issue the necessary permits, while others think we simply need to continue trying. The District of Sechelt directors think it is time to put this project aside and work directly on new supply and storage facilities. We need a year-round Stage 2 minimum level of water for our citizens.

The backup emergency system that was successfully used in 2015 and 2017 is a syphon system. We do not believe a second stage 4 emergency system is a solution to the water shortage issue.

The District of Sechelt is a community and does not have enough water right now for our 10,000 citizens. Because we have only 2 seats at the SCRD table, the District of Sechelt must work with directors representing rural areas when setting priorities on water issues.

With our two seats, we have two votes; however, on financial and operational matters it is weighted by population for each service. For the water service, Sechelt has 6 votes and the 5 rural areas have 2 votes each. Last week we proposed abandoning the Chapman Lake project. We mustered 8 votes out of 16. Motions that are a tie are considered defeated and so, we lost. The District of Sechelt relies entirely on the Chapman water system for our citizens while some of the other areas do not. While the SCRD board remains focused on this emergency backup project, work on finding viable solutions to a serious water supply shortage is delayed.

The District of Sechelt welcomes your comments on this issue.

Bruce Milne