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Lantzville considers options on water

Emotions on Lantzville council are running from excited to cautious as politicians consider solutions for limited water supply.

The District of Lantzville is evaluating future water sources for the rural community, including a water-sharing agreement with the City of Nanaimo and the potential of tapping into a source at the Foothills Estates.

The district has long been on the hunt for water to address stagnant growth and contaminated private wells. This month, Lone Tree Properties – the company behind the Lantzville Foothills Estates – announced drilling efforts may have uncovered enough water to support its development and “all the needs” of Lantzville. It also said it would be willing to chip in to the cost of water-sharing infrastructure with Nanaimo as it urged the district to come to the bargaining table and discuss a joint water strategy.

The move comes on the heels of the City of Nanaimo approving a proposed 20-year water-sharing deal in February that offers 50 new development connections each year and water for 225 upper Lantzville homes. The initial hook-up fee is pegged at $1.3 million.

According to councillors, it’s too early to talk about what the recent Foothills discovery means for negotiations with Nanaimo or which course is best. They say more information is needed on the costs of different options, water in the Foothills and the desire of the community.

Mayor Jack de Jong and Coun. Joe Bratkowski said the district still has to review the terms and conditions of the Nanaimo agreement and would like to see a hydro geologist report from Lone Tree Properties that demonstrates the quality and quantity of water on the property.

The source is “not proven at this point in time,” de Jong said, adding he has doubts “at this moment” the developer can supply as much water as the City of Nanaimo.

Coun. Jennifer Millbank is also seeking more technical information, but says it’s “fantastic” the community has choices, while Coun. Denise Haime calls a local source “exciting” and wants the community to weigh in.

Haime also plans to propose a referendum on the water-sharing deal this month.

“The community needs to sit down and have a conversation about what they want to do with regards to water and from who and how this is all supposed to work,” Haime said.

“If the developer feels there’s enough water on their own property now and enough for the community, well then maybe we need to look at that before we sign any water agreement. The price tag with the city is a huge price tag.”

The District of Lantzville’s legal advisors are currently combing through the water-agreement with Nanaimo.

It was called a business deal by some Nanaimo city councillors and Bratkowski said it must be the same for Lantzville.

He adds that he’d like to see the rural community tap into city water, which has proven quality. As for the Foothills, Lone Tree has talked about cost-sharing for infrastructure and water but “I think it’s really early for us, for council, to make a decision on it. He needs to demonstrate he has the water,” Bratkowski said.

Millbank says next steps should also include learning how any proposals will affect taxpayers.

The water-sharing agreement is expected to be on the Lantzville council agenda Monday (March 24).

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