Residents trickle in to water treatment facility open house

Interest in the city's open house on the alternative approval process for the proposed water treatment plant was reduced to a trickle Wednesday afternoon as summer weather took precedence over municipal issues.

Interest in the city’s open house on the alternative approval process for the proposed water treatment plant was reduced to a trickle Wednesday afternoon as summer weather took precedence over municipal issues.

City staff were on hand at the Bowen Recreation Centre from 3-7 p.m. to field questions from the public on the direction city council chose to obtain approval to borrow $22.5 million toward the $65-million water treatment facility.

The alternative approval process, which ends at 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 31, requires at least 10 per cent of the city’s 62,680 registered voters to submit elector response forms to prevent city hall from borrowing the money.

“We’re here to inform people on the process so they can make a decision about whether borrowing is a good option or if there are other options,” said Tom Hickey, general manager of community services.

Just a handful of residents attended the open house.

Nanaimo resident Lynn Stewart, who took her 12-year-old granddaughter Emily to the open house to expose her to civic issues, said she agrees borrowing the money is the best avenue so taxes and user rates don’t increase, but that an alternative approval process in the middle of summer is disrespectful to citizens.

“This is an election year, this decision should be decided in a referendum,” said Stewart. “A summer AAP is iffy at best. Last election there was what, 20 per cent voter participation, so how they can expect anywhere close to obtaining 10 per cent in the middle of summer on a single issue? I have to wonder about the qualifications of the people who made this decision.”

Elector response forms can be found and submitted at legislative services at city hall. B.C. municipalities require permission from electors to borrow money if the loan term exceeds five years.

Council originally voted for a referendum on borrowing the money linked to the upcoming municipal election, but that decision was brought back and overturned in favour of the alternative approval process.

If permission to borrow money is not granted through the AAP process, council still has time to seek permission through a referendum in November’s municipal election. If approval is once again rejected, council has indicated the money would be raised by raising water rates at least 80 per cent for the next three years.

Hickey said the city must show it is able to pay its portion of the project to qualify for $17.8-million in grant money from the federal and provincial governments.

“That money is conditional on our ability to raise $22.5 million, but we will raise it either through borrowing or increasing user rates,” said Hickey.

The federal government’s Community Works Fund will also contribute $10 million to the project, while development cost charges will cover $5.9 million. Water user rates, which are scheduled to increase five per cent annually for the foreseeable future, will contribute $8.8 million.

“We moved here from Edmonton almost two years ago and my taxes have already increased twice since we’ve been here,” said Stewart. “Property taxes here, in my opinion, are already too much, so I’d rather see that we borrow the money.”

Mandated by Vancouver Island Health Authority in 2008, the new water treatment centre, located on South Forks Road, will provide high-tech filtration processes that will meet federal Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines standards while also meeting the area’s drinking water demands for the next 30 years.

Though Nanaimo’s drinking water is already some of the best in the country, the membrane filtration process will reduce the threat of viruses, bacteria, protozoa and turbidity events.

For more information on the water treatment facility or the alternative approval process, please visit www.nanaimo.ca.

Just Posted

Regional District of Nanaimo is seeking input from the public for its transit redevelopment strategy. (News Bulletin file)
Public input sought as RDN works on transit redevelopment strategy

RDN wants to know where people want bus stops, shelters and pedestrian and cycling connections

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Nanaimo residents on edge of city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Nanaimo artist Dave Stevens is displaying paintings inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River at Nanaimo Harbourfront Library from now until the end of fall. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo writer and artist’s work goes up at Harbourfront library

Dave Stevens presents work inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read