Lantzville water vote called premature

NANAIMO – Negotiations on agreement between communities ongoing.

Lantzville councillors refuse to wade into debate on a proposed water-sharing referendum, calling it premature and not legally necessary.

On Monday, Lantzville politician Denise Haime called for the water-supply deal with Nanaimo to go to referendum, pointing out the agreement will affect residents financially and in terms of development.

It was the second time in four months Haime pitched a motion to put a question on the ballot and the second time it fell short of seeing discussion.

A motion needs one supporter and it had none.

Acting mayor Graham Savage told the News Bulletin he believes council isn’t interested in discussing the issue because the district is still negotiating a deal, and a referendum isn’t legally necessary – as councillors they are elected to make decisions for the community and “I think we are comfortable making those decisions when the time comes,” he said.

Coun. Jennifer Millbank didn’t back the bid because she believes the community already gave council a mandate in the 2011 election to secure a water agreement since many of the candidates campaigned on the issue. She said it also wouldn’t be fair for a majority to deny a minority of residents access to potable water.

Coun. Andrew Mostad calls the referendum premature. Lantzville doesn’t know what it’s discussing yet.

The agreement, made public by the City of Nanaimo earlier this year is back in camera and Lantzville and its legal team have proposed changes.

According to Mostad, Lantzville didn’t have a chance to view the agreement or give input before Nanaimo released it last February, which has not only caused confusion but presented people with incomplete information.

“They put an unfinished piece of work out into the public realm and unfortunately it’s their unfinished piece of work,” he said. “It’s not even something Lantzville can discuss because it’s Nanaimo’s take on it.

“It’s what they want from it, not necessarily what Lantzville wants.”

The two municipalities have been working on a 20-year agreement, which would include water for 225 homes in upper Lantzville at a $1.3-million connection cost.

Mostad said it’s time to let the lawyers finish their work and once they do, council and the community can discuss if the agreement would be beneficial for Lantzville.

“I don’t think this will just be a decision of council. It needs to be discussed in the public forum and something that is more inclusive than simply a referendum.”

Nanaimo city council is expected be presented with agreement changes this August.

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