Water was on the minds of councillors on Monday night.
On Monday, Lantzville councillors voted 4-3 against a motion that would have seen more restrictions added into a bylaw which outlines appropriate water usage for development within the district.
Bylaw 55.1 sets out the ground rules for how water is distributed within Lantzville. It states that new lots will be provided with a connection to Lantzville’s municipal water system and in the event that a connection cannot be made, confirmation is required from an engineer that each lot is serviced with a certain amount of water from a well.
However, there are four clauses in the bylaw which state what can be done with water. One of those clauses allows properties within an area known as a comprehensive development zone to access water from properties outside of the zone’s boundaries.
Coun. John Coulson, who raised the motion, told councillors he was concerned that developers could buy land outside of the comprehensive development zone and shuttle water to new developments within the development zone. He said that could impact all residents, who could be at risk of having their wells dry up and raised the motion to ensure residents are protected.
“If we don’t have that kind of protection there is really nothing from stopping a developer or land holder from buying another property with a large producing well and doing whatever they want with that water. Transferring across the district or whatever,” he said. “That’s terribly concerning.”
Coun. Denise Haime said bylaw 55.1 has no clarity, adding that it was created with a specific purpose and that purpose has not been realized.
“We need to beef up this bylaw to make it do the job that it was intended to do and protect the water supply,” she said.
Coun. Dot Neary said she couldn’t support the motion because there is an OCP review underway and she believes the issue needs to be address on a larger scale.
Coun. Will Geselbracht said the issue has been raised before. He said councillors should allow the official community plan review to continue before making changes to bylaws.
“We’ve got to give this a chance to develop. As was stated, we have on OCP project underway … let’s give this a chance to develop the proper way through the proper channels,” he said.
Coulson said the change to the bylaw is simple to make and not doing it would basically result in water being used as a commodity within Lantzville.
Coun. Bob Colclough said it’s inaccurate to say that people can pump as much water as they want out of the ground and make other people’s wells go dry.
“The district still does, through their bylaws, have the ability to regulate groundwater and dedicate the terms and conditions on which wells they take,” he said. “Any well that the district considers, they can and do require, a comprehensive pump test to be done, which takes into account neighbouring wells.”
Councillors Haime and Coulson voted against the motion along with Mayor Colin Haime.