Lantzville signs water agreement

Lantzville Mayor Jack de Jong has signed the water agreement after getting council approval Monday.

Lantzville’s mayor signed off on a water-supply agreement with the City of Nanaimo, despite concerns the move comes too soon.

Lantzville council approved a 20-year water supply deal with Nanaimo on Monday in a 5-2 vote, without prior public notice and shortly after releasing the full, renegotiated agreement to residents for the first time.

According to Coun. Brian Dempsey, who proposed the motion, there was no good reason to put off signing the document immediately.

The two municipalities have been finalizing a water-supply deal for more than a year, which would allow water to be piped to 225 homes in upper Lantzville at a $1.3-million connection cost. It would also allow for 50 new development hookups each year and the potential for another 211 homes on private wells to connect in the future.

By agreeing to the terms, Lantzville isn’t required to transfer money until the pipeline is built and connected and could end the deal with no penalty if it finds another source of water, Dempsey said, adding once signed, the City of Nanaimo is committed.

“Public information meetings can be scheduled later,” he said. “This is a time for council to show leadership.”

Mayor Jack de Jong pointed out that this is an opportunity that doesn’t come very often and it’s likely the best arrangement the district would be able to negotiate. But Coun. Denise Haime opposed the move, asking councillors to give residents time to review the document.

“This council agreed to hold public meetings and consult prior to approving the water agreement. Council promised this consultation for more than 14 months in council meetings, council letters to residents, community updates and statements made to the media,” Haime said, in a statement. “By passing the water agreement without any consultation whatsoever this council has betrayed the trust of and displayed a shocking lack of respect toward the people of Lantzville.”

The District of Lantzville has been looking for additional supply as it grapples with stagnant growth, contaminated private wells and limited water supply. In early August it saw the City of Nanaimo agree to altered terms for a final agreement. The district approved the release of the document and memorandum of understanding Monday, as well as the signing of the deal.

Resident John Halliwell said he thought a decision could have been delayed.

“I don’t know what the panic is to have passed it through today,” he said. “I would have liked to have seen this agreement way before you voted on it and OK’d.”

But Bob Colclough, former superintendent of public works for the Lantzville Improvement District, didn’t see any reason not to sign.

A meeting is expected next week to talk about next steps.