Lantzville declines residents’ request for cost estimate on water hookups

NANAIMO – Lantzville councillors defeated a motion to provide a cost estimate study for water connection to the Winds neighbourhood.

For Natasha Friesen, water is a big issue.

A resident on Northwind Drive, Friesen has dealt with high levels of boron in her well water for years and sought options to find another water source, which included drilling a new well five years ago.

Friesen is just one of a handful of residents who are part of Water for the Winds Group, property owners looking for ways to potentially link their neighbourhood to a piped water system.

Friesen, along with Derek Hogeweide, another member of the Water for the Winds Group, addressed Lantzville councillors during a council meeting Wednesday about the water situation and their recent efforts, which include a petition for council provide a cost estimate for water connection to the Winds neighborhood.

“What we asking from council is to provide what the cost per household would be for residents of the Winds area and what the option could be,” Friesen said.

According to Friesen and Hogeweide, the petition was signed by 78 out of 110 residents within the neighbourhood and out of those 78 residents, 40 stated they wanted improved fire protection. An additional seven people stated their water was contaminated.

A motion was made by Coun. Mark Swain to direct staff to prepare a portfolio for a cost estimate for construction of water infrastructure in the Winds neighbourhood.

“We need to start moving forward in providing, you, the residents, some information as to what the cost is actually going to be,” Swain said.

However, after a lengthy discussion by council, the motion was defeated.

More than a year since the water agreement between the City of Nanaimo and the District of Lantzville was signed and residents are still not connected to a piped water source.

Coun. Bob Colclough said the effort by Water for the Winds Group was a “great pilot project” for other neighborhoods in the area and was supportive of developing a cost estimate.

“These people here are ahead of the game. They have done the work and  … this is something that we can do in a two-step approach,” he said.

Mayor Colin Haime said he appreciated and respected the efforts by Water for the Winds Group, but that not enough information was available to council and staff to get an appropriate and reasonable cost estimate.

“There are going to be things where there may be a developer, there may not be. It requires OCP amendments and zoning amendments when it comes forward. Does it include a reservoir or not, which brings into play another developer and another piece of land. I don’t want to mislead people by giving them a number and saying this is kind of close,” Haime said.

Council is planning a town hall meeting in May to provide residents with an update and future direction on Lantzville’s water situation.

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