The District of Lantzville will look into how much it might cost to bring water to one of its neighbourhoods.
Lantzville councillors, during their Sept. 30 meeting, voted unanimously to have district staff research the requirements and costs associated with creating a local service area in order to provide water to the Winds neighbourhood.
Local service areas or LSAs are specific geographical areas established by municipalities to provide services such as water or sewer according to the provincial government’s website. Services provided to these areas paid for entirely or partially by property owners located within an LSA through taxation.
In 2018, Lantzville council executed the Nanaimo-Lantzville water agreement following years of debate and delays. Although Lantzville paid the City of Nanaimo $1.33 million in exchange for water over a 20-year period, decisions about which communities will receive municipal water first haven’t been made.
Among the neighbourhoods where many residents are hopeful for municipal water is the Winds, an area located in upper Lantzville that encompasses Northwind, Southwind, Westwind and Eastwind Drives. For years, a number of residents in the Winds neighbourhood have been dealing with boron in their wells and other water-related issues.
During Monday’s meeting, Mayor Mark Swain, who made the motion, said it was time for the residents in the Winds to determine what they want.
“I think the residents are owed at least the right to understand what it is going to take to get water there and how much it is going to cost,” he said.
Swain said the cost of bringing water to the neighbourhood could in fact be “quite high” but would get even higher if council continues to do nothing. He also said residents in the area should have the chance to decide whether they want a local service area or not.
Coun. Ian Savage called Swain’s idea an “important” first step that will provide council with the information needed to make long-term plans about water distribution in the neighbourhood. He said council must take action as they are all “committed” to providing water to the Winds.
“I certainly support this, there is nothing like taking action on things. Nothing happens until you take action and I dare say, no matter what the outcome of this is, we keep taking action until it gets done,” he said.
Coun. Karen Proctor called it a “good move” to start on costing options for the neighbourhood.
“I think having clean drinking water is a basic human right but I think it is also a safety issue for Lantzville because we don’t have fire hydrants in that area,” she said.
Coun. Will Geselbracht said with respect to the overall cost of providing water, there are options such applying for government grants. He said it’s been two years since council adopted the water master plan and that it is important for council to get an idea of what it might cost to provide water to the area.
“I’m going to support this. I originally thought it might be a bit premature, but it is going to take staff some time to come back to council and say ‘here are some options’ and I think it is important.”
Ronald Campbell, the district’s chief administrative officer, told councillors there have been discussions at the staff level about possibility of providing water to the Winds neighbourhood. He said the matter is more complex than it might seem as there are costs associated with bringing the main water supply line to the Winds and whether the main supply line would provide water to the Winds or to other areas of the community as well.
“There are a whole myriad of things that we would have to look into and come back to council in order to get the full picture, including potential grant funding,” he said.
During public input portion of the meeting, Natasha Friesen, a resident of the Winds who has high levels of boron in her well water and has sought options to find another water source for years, told councillor she hopes to see water in her neighbourhood.
“We need affordable water for our neighbourhood and we need to have it before I have grandchildren…” she said. “I started talking about this seven years ago.”
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