After months of planning, community workshops, open houses and numerous public surveys, Lantzville’s water master plan was officially adopted by councillors last week.
Created by Lanarc Consultants in conjunction with Koers Engineering and district staff, the water master plan is intended to be a guiding visionary document to help Lantzville councillors and staff plan for the future.
Included in the water master plan are a number of recommendations for the district, including triggering the Lantzville-Nanaimo water agreement followed by immediately asking the City of Nanaimo for a number of amendments to the agreement. It also recommends the district create a middle pressure zone, drop its water standards from 3,400 litres per day to 2,800 litres per day and implement a well head protection plan for Lantzville’s well field to ensure the existing groundwater source remains protected for the future.
During the Dec. 4 meeting there were concerns raised about some of the maps included in the water master plan, which Coun. John Coulson said were inaccurate. Speaking to the News Bulletin afterward, Fred Spears, the district’s director of public works, said the maps will be corrected.
Spears also said when it comes to finding more water, the district is always seeking new avenues. He said Nanaimo is Lantzville’s best source for more water and that Lanarc’s recommendation to trigger the water agreement is a clear sign that it is time to move forward.
“If council chooses to move forward with any kind of development or trying to supply water to areas that are not supplied currently, the only option is to implement the Lantzville-Nanaimo water agreement,” he said. “There is no other option. There is no other place for water.”
Jana Zelenski, engagement planner with Lanarc Consultants, said the water master plan is a moving framework that is meant to help district planners and that the recommendations, while listed in a numerical order, are all of equal importance. She said the recommendation to execute the water agreement with Nanaimo is listed as a main priority because Lantzville lacks additional water sources.
“It’s an opportunity to move forward with a potential new water source, which they are lacking right now,” she said.
Zelenski also said that Lantzville residents do a tremendous job conserving water, adding that the reason for dropping the water standards to 2,800 litres per day, which is still well above what residents use, is simply to allow for more connections to municipal water.
“The rationale for dropping it was really that it was an opportunity to study where the community is at in terms of their current water use as well as the local and regional trends,” she said.
Coun. Will Geselbracht said a water master plan was one of the things that councillors agreed on creating back in 2015. He said the recommendations from Lanarc mean trigging the Lantzville-Nanaimo water agreement is the next step in securing water for the community.
“We had been waiting to see what came back on our well testing and they didn’t come back as good as we originally thought and that is fine,” he said. “There is only one alternative. We have to hook up. The Nanaimo-Lantzville water agreement, despite the various warts that have been pointed out, is a win-win situation for Lantzville residents.”
Meanwhile, Coulson said he had plenty of concerns about the water master plan, believing that it only benefits developers. Coulson also took issue with the fact that there were errors in the plan and that the plan contradicted numerous community survey results that indicated residents who didn’t have water didn’t want it.
“When the data indicates a certain path or desire, how do recommendations go against what the data says or supports?” he asked. “I am stunned.”
He said Lanarc’s call to execute the water agreement with Nanaimo was mainly done because without that source of water the entire master plan is useless, and felt that those recommendations were reckless and irresponsible.
“When you consider the discussions we’ve had around the water agreement, the legal issues, the fact that there hasn’t been a referendum … it is poor,” he said.
Lantzville councillors and district staff will now be able to make recommendations to council based on the information and recommendations contained in the water master plan. Councillors would need to vote on action that resulted in executing the Lantzville-Nanaimo water agreement.