Water emerges as top priority for Lantzville byelection candidates

NANAIMO – Solutions to increase water supply or move ahead on water deal with Nanaimo pitched by candidates.

Water is a top priority for Lantzville’s byelection candidates as the community continues to grapple with the issue of supply.

More than half of the political hopefuls running in Lantzville’s byelection see water as a top priority according to a News Bulletin questionnaire, but all 12 candidates have ideas to address a supply agreement with the City of Nanaimo.

Increasing water capacity remains important to the District of Lantzville, but no clear course has been taken on a supply solution 11 months after signing a 20-year agreement with the City of Nanaimo. Earlier this year a district report showed there was little consensus among councillors on how to move forward and in the 2014 municipal annual report the mayor said there are still “operational, financial and consultative processes and procedures” to undertake before connections can move ahead.

Lantzville politicians agreed to bring in a facilitator for $2,500 to help figure out the next steps around water, but follow through will be up to the new council.

Five byelection candidates want to see progress on the water agreement, including by hiring a consultant, while others want to re-visit the deal with Nanaimo, launch a referendum and create a long-range plan on water of which the deal would only be one aspect.

Candidate Joan Moody said in her profile that Lantzville should move forward as soon as possible with a connection to Nanaimo and she’s interested in a consultant to determine how to proceed and what financial resources would be required.

Competitor Mark Swain believes the previous council did a good job constructing the agreement and that it needs commitment to move it forward.

“At this point the connection with Nanaimo is our best option,” he said. “It’s our most immediate response.”

The deal, signed by Lantzville council last September, allows 225 residents already on the municipal system to hook into city water for a $1.3-million connection cost. It also allows for 50 new development connections and the potential for another 211 homes on private wells to connect in the future. Swain said there’s a misconception the deal puts developers ahead of the interests of residents, when the connections for developers is in addition to what’s being offered to locals.

Doug Parkhurst, however, questions why the 50 connections is only limited to new development and would like to re-visit the agreement with Nanaimo. Jennifer Bielewkski also wants clarity around the connections for new development and the amount of flexibility that exists in the agreement. If a local service area like the ‘winds’ (residences on Northwind, Southwind, Eastwind and Westwind drives) opts out of a water connection with Nanaimo, for example, she wonders if it’s an option for residents in her Black Jack Drive neighborhood to get it instead.

Warren Griffey wants a referendum if the district is spending money from its reserves to connect into the Nanaimo water system and Bob Colclough, while interested in revisiting the agreement  when the time is right, wants a survey of who wants water and how much they are willing to pay and a game plan of options to source water.

For more on views of candidates, please visit http://goo.gl/B5g7KF. The byelection happens Aug.8.

 

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