Lantzville councillor suggests sending water deal to referendum

NANAIMO – Coun. Denise Haime says water deal is a bigger issue during debate over Lantzville council size.

Lantzville’s potential water deal with Nanaimo is a “bigger issue” than the size of council, according to one politician interested in seeing discussion on a second referendum question.

Coun. Denise Haime suggested putting the yet-unseen water deal with Nanaimo on the ballot during debate about a referendum on the size of council at Monday night’s council meeting.

“If we are going to put this on the ballot, I’m going to bring a notice of motion that we put the water deal on the ballot,” Haime said, as applause erupted from the gallery. “I think that’s a bigger issue and bigger concern for this community. They want to have a say on what happens with water.”

After the meeting – and initial approval of a referendum on council size – Haime told the Nanaimo Bulletin she only said council should look at putting the water deal to public vote, but didn’t say she was putting forward a notice of motion. She said she is waiting to see the terms of the deal and residents’ response to it.

A second referendum question, however, is valid, she said, adding it would get people out to vote and see the financial decisions reflect the will of the whole community.

But Mayor Jack de Jong calls it premature to discuss putting the water deal to referendum, and believes the agreement is a decision of council. He says there could be “100 people that have problem wells,” making him question if it’s fair to let those on water and without concerns determine if others get relief.

“It’s more of a question of fairness to those that are suffering hardship,” he said.

The rural district has been waiting for the City of Nanaimo to finalize a water deal since last June.

The agreement would see water piped to 225 homes on the condition of limited connections and financial contributions. Lantzville officials have the final decision on the terms.