The District of Lantzville has released a 2016 legal opinion clarifying the definition of upper and lower Lantzville in relation to the Nanaimo water agreement.
The legal opinion along with a report to council dated September 2016 appeared on the district’s website on Monday following an in-camera council meeting that took place on Oct. 23.
Authored by Devin Buchanan of Fulton and Company LLP and submitted to the district in July 2016, the legal opinion states that the actual definition of upper and lower Lantzville in relation to the water agreement is murky.
It acknowledges that the dividing line for upper and lower Lantzville is generally understood by residents to be Highway 19, but points out that upper and lower Lantzville are defined in the water agreement by a map known as Schedule C, which fails provide any clear illustration defining upper and lower Lantzville.
However, the law firm concluded that it believes Lantzville would be “justified” in using the upper pressure zone as the definition, citing wording in the agreement such as upper Lantzville area, high-pressure zone and low side of the pressure-reducing valve. Although the firm indicated that there is not enough evidence that “positively” supports one definition or another, it believes the intent of the agreement is to supply water to 225 premises located within the existing high-pressure zone.
Buchanan warned that because there could be more than one interpretation of the water agreement, Nanaimo could take the opinion that Lantzville is only entitled to supply water to the area south of the highway and could halt the flow of water to the community.
The firm recommended the district seek an amendment with the City of Nanaimo to clarify the definition of upper and lower Lantzville and receive approval from Nanaimo prior to triggering the agreement.
Coun. John Coulson, who has previously raised concerns about the definition of upper and lower Lantzville, said he’s pleased that the legal opinion was released to the public but has lingering questions about the amount of information that was provided to Fulton and Company LLP by the district. Coulson said he wonders why councillors never bothered to mention anything about clarifying the definition of upper and lower Lantzville when they asked Nanaimo councillors for a series of amendments to the water agreement in June 2016.
“We did that four months previously and there was no mention of upper and lower Lantzville being clarified. Why?” he asked.
Coun. Bob Colclough said there was never doubt in his mind that the language in the agreement refers to pressure zones. He said the decision to release the legal opinion came down to informing the public.
“There is just too much misinformation and misunderstanding,” he said. “Let’s just put it to rest.”