News

Parksville mayoral candidates' opinions differ on water treatment plant

Parksville's proposed new water treatment and storage system is the optimum 50-year solution for the city's water needs, according to Parksville mayoralty candidate Marc Lefebvre.

His opponent Bill Neufeld disagrees.

Lefebvre said through a news release this week he has been involved in the city's water strategy since his election to council 12 years ago. He's the city's representative to both the Arrowsmith Water Service (Parksville's partnership with the Town of Qualicum Beach and the Regional District of Nanaimo) and the Englishman River Water Service (Parksville's partnership with the RDN for the new system).

"As a council member and as a residential taxpayer, I'm more than satisfied that the technical design of  the new water system is the optimum solution for ensuring that our city has a long-term, safe and secure source of potable water," said Lefebvre. "We're defined by what we pass on to the next generations. This is part of our legacy for those who follow."

Without any help from senior governments — which are expected in the form of infrastructure grants — the city's portion of the new system, as it's currently planned, is $27.3 million. Lefebvre says the city is legally mandated to meet new water quality standards and timelines imposed by the Island Health Authority.

Neufeld said he would like to see the new city council re-examine the project after the Nov. 15 municipal elections.

"I would hope a new council will have the opportunity to re-look at the whole process," said Neufeld. "We haven't really looked at the size of the plant and I tend to see it as extremely large for the City of Parksville."

Neufeld also said he believes the size of the plant proposed now is more a reflection of growth in the regional district, which would be picking up one quarter of the costs.

"Why are we building a plant that's going to be paid three-quarters by Parksville and one-quarter by the RDN when it's the growth strategy of the RDN that's putting more growth into Nanoose Bay at Fairwinds," said Neufeld. "Growth (in Parksville) has plateaued in the last couple of years."

In his news release, Lefebvre said the new water system includes three components: an intake system; a treatment plant; and an aquifer storage and recovery system (ASR).  The system is designed to ensure water is available all year to meet the needs of both humans and fish.

"Our biggest challenge is the low water flow during our increasing hotter and longer summer periods," said Lefebvre. "In addition to meeting increased human demands during the summer, our license with the federal department of Fisheries and Oceans for our water intake obliges us to provide adequate water to maintain Englishman River flows as a fish habitat."

• The only other person who indicated he would be running for mayor this fall, Antonio Farinha, contacted The NEWS last week to say he is no longer seeking the mayor's chair.

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