City gets OK to borrow money for water projects

Nanaimo city council will move ahead to borrow money to complete a new water treatment facility after elector opposition fell considerably short through an Alternative Approval Process.

Nanaimo city council will move ahead to borrow money to complete a new water treatment facility after voter opposition fell considerably short.

An alternative approval process, which closed Aug. 31, required 6,268 (10 per cent of Nanaimo’s electorate) valid response forms to defeat the bylaw that would enable council to borrow $22.5 million toward a $65-million South Fork Water Treatment facility.

The city received three forms of opposition in response.

If the bylaw was defeated, council said it would have put the issue to a referendum tied to the November municipal election. Failing that, water rates for Nanaimo residents would have increased about 80 per cent for the next three years to collect the required capital for the project.

Instead, the city can now secure the $22.5-million loan, which will also trigger $17.8 million in federal and provincial funding, $10 million from the Community Works Fund, $5.9 million in development cost charges and $8.8 million from water user rates.

“Construction of the water treatment plant will ensure Nanaimo’s water supply meets federal and provincial drinking water standards,” said Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan.

In 2008, secondary water treatment to address viruses, bacteria, protozoa and turbidity was ordered by VIHA in order to meet Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines.

In order to keep its permit to operate the city’s water supply, Nanaimo must the new treatment centre, which will be located off South Forks Road near Nanaimo River Road. It is expected to be completed by spring 2015.

A parallel counter petition regarding a $2.5-million project to establish emergency water access through the Harmac pulp mill’s supply received two elector response forms, giving that project approval as well.

Both Harmac and the city will share in the cost. The agreement has a 30-year term.

Crews will begin work on a pipeline and pump station this fall to provide the city with water in the event the main water systems are damaged or require shutdown.

The city must obtain elector approval when a borrowing money for a term longer than five years.