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Nanaimo councillors amend water deal after repeated requests from Lantzville councillors

Lantzville councillor calls decision a ‘game changer’ for the community
Nanaimo city councillors agreed to a number of proposed amendments to the Lantzville-Nanaimo water agreement, which was triggered by the District of Lantzville earlier this year. (News Bulletin file)

After years of trying, Lantzville councillors finally got their wish, or at least a part of it.

The City of Nanaimo and the District of Lantzville have reached an agreement to amend portions of a controversial $1.33-million water agreement between the two municipalities.

According to a letter posted on the district’s website, the two municipalities agreed to change a section of the agreement that defined upper and lower Lantzville by citing an vague map, known as Schedule C, which showed no boundary line for upper and lower Lantzville. Now, the water agreement will refer to a more detailed map known as Schedule A, always included within the agreement, that includes a boundary line.

Nanaimo and Lantzville councillors also agreed to removing the phrase “as a result of new development” from a section of the agreement that had stipulated that 50 connections would be made available for new development. As a result of the change, 50 new connections can be made to upper Lantzville regardless of whether they’re for new development or existing properties.

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An entire section that defined development as the “construction of new premises or the subdivision of land resulting in the creation of new parcels” in order to create new premises was removed entirely from the agreement.

All other aspects of the water agreement remain in place.

Nanaimo councillor’s decision to amend the agreement comes after Lantzville councillors spent more than two years requesting Nanaimo agree to a number of their proposed amendments to the water agreement, which was signed back in 2014. Under the deal, Nanaimo will supply water to 225 existing homes on municipal water in upper Lantzville for $1.33 million or roughly $5,912 per household. An additional 211 connections can be made to residents on private wells for a cost of $5,912.

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Among the requests Lantzville had been seeking which were not agreed upon by Nanaimo councillors include the ability for the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation to potentially hook up to Lantzville’s water system once Lantzville begins receiving Nanaimo water and replacing the phrase “water system capital costs” to “water service surcharge.” Lantzville councillors had wanted that phrase changed in order to alleviate potential concerns about direct capital contribution or future liabilities that Lantzville might have to assume.

Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay told the News Bulletin the changes to the deal were agreed on during an in-camera meeting between the two municipalities in July and that the city agreed to those changes because they thought not “just as a city” but on a “regional scale.” He said the changes that were made to the agreement were minor in nature, as Nanaimo will still receive money for the 50 additional connections regardless of who gets the water, adding that Lantzville was insistent on freeing up the 50 new connections that had been slated for new development only.

“They wanted to make sure they dealt with that so those folks could benefit,” he said. “They wanted to come back to us and make these minor changes so that they could live within the spirit of the agreement and get consent from us that it went to these other users.”

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Prior to the meeting, some Nanaimo councillors had expressed a desire to renegotiate the entire water agreement instead of agreeing to Lantzville’s proposed amendments.

McKay said the meeting that took place July did not include discussions about renegotiation. He said discussions around including amendments regarding the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation and water system capital costs did not take place because Lantzville withdrew those requests.

Nanaimo does not receive any additional compensation, whether it be financial or otherwise, as a result of agreeing to some of Lantzville’s proposed amendments, according to McKay.

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Lantzville Coun. Denise Haime said she is absolutely thrilled about the amendments, calling them a “game changer” for the community.

“This is what we had always worked towards, was getting water to existing residents,” she said. “I view this as a bit of a game changer for the community now because it is still 5o connections a year, but now nothing says you have to sell out to developers to move it around, it can be moved around to the existing residents who need it.”

Haime confirmed the proposed amendments including the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation and water system capital costs were essentially dropped from the discussions, adding that council can always request an amendment down the road to include the Snaw-Naw-As into the agreement.

She said there was a time following Lantzville council’s decision to execute the water agreement, that she believed the amendments would never happen. She said residents from all over can now get water some day.

“This is for people in some areas of Lantzville, particularly lower Lantzville who were told they couldn’t get water. Now they can get water,” she said.” It will all depend on what happens moving forward with the next council but it is a huge win for the community.”

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Lantzville Coun. Bob Colclough said he was pleased with Nanaimo’s decision to agree to the changes. He said the amendment makes things easier from a technical perspective.

“You might end up with two water lines down one street because one water line would have been for existing residents and then the other one water line would have been supplying the new development,” Colclough said. “So, getting that changed was very important particularly to a number of residents, like those on Fernmar. Bottom line, it gives us flexible to implement services efficiently.” 
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