A call for more options for Parksville’s water treatment plant

The public gallery was packed with people for last week's Parksville city council meeting

Parksville residents want their city council to seek less expensive options to the water treatment and storage proposal currently on the table.

That demand was made clear last week when the gallery was packed for a council meeting with people in support of a presentation by Qualicum Beach resident Trevor Wicks.

Later in the meeting, Coun. Leanne Salter proposed an unclear, rambling motion that asked for council to support a request demanding the Englishman River Water Service (ERWS) come up with more options than the current, $37 million plan.

“Let’s get plan B, C and D going,” Salter said as part of her motion, which was eventually defeated 6-1. “We need to investigate and we need to come up with other options.”

“A number of things brought up by Mr. Wicks tonight were considered,” said Mayor Marc Lefebvre, a member of the ERWS board for the past three years. “All alternatives have been looked at. These things take a long time.”

Salter made reference to the standing-room-only crowd at the meeting, suggesting the public is facing “stonewalling” from council, staff and/or the ERWS.

“This is not the leadership they are expecting,” said Salter. “I don’t think dismissing what they have to say is a way to go.”

Late last year in one of this council’s first meetings after the civic election, Coun. Kirk Oates successfully pitched a motion for the city to have a town-hall-style meeting about the situation. Oates made the motion but it was something most all candidates pitched during the election campaign. The mayor cancelled that meeting when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans expressed concerns about the intake location in the ERWS plans, and when answers about grants from senior governments were not forthcoming.

At its meeting last week, council officially rescinded the motion for the town-hall meeting and set a date (May 25) for another town-hall meeting.

Wicks’ presentation explored the use of storage ponds at elevation above the city, taking advantage of the natural overflow of the Englishman River at certain times of the year. Wells dug near the ponds could supply the city with the water it needs, with gravity propelling the water through pipes to the community.

“There’s no cost to moving the water to the community,” he said.

When questioned about his credentials by Coun. Al Greir, Wicks said he had a “masters in practicality and PHD in common sense.” He also said he had 60 years of interest and experience with water systems.

Wicks also raised the alarm about the city’s Springwood-area acquifer, where he said groundwater levels have dropped 30 feet in the last 20 years.

Wicks said his goal was to get people thinking about options other than what the ERWS is proposing and he didn’t believe his was necessarily the definitive option.

“I hope there are many more concepts that come out,” he said. “All I’m doing is throwing out a concept to start the discussion.”

Oates asked Wicks if he believed his concept would pass muster with the DFO and governmental environment guidelines and asked how Wicks could claim his concept would not harm the environment if experts haven’t investigated it yet.

“I find your question a little bit insulting,” said Wicks. “I’m just opening the door to discussion.”

There were also questions and comments from the gallery and council table about the cost and effectiveness of the ERWS. Staff could not provide the public or council with an exact figure related to what the ERWS has already spent in taxpayers dollars in its five-year existence, but the $5 million figure was tossed about often and went unchallenged.

“I think the ERWS should be considered history,” said Wicks.

Coun. Sue Powell disagreed.

“To say we have spent five years and $5 million and came up with nothing is an unfair comment,” said Powell. “You make it sound like we have not done our due diligence and we have done it behind closed doors.”

Just Posted

Parksville Qualicum Beach legions set to launch Poppy Campaign

Annual fundraiser to run from Oct. 25 to Nov. 11

Bear sightings up significantly in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Fruit trees number one food attractant, says conservation officer

Parksville Qualicum Beach crime report: Thieves pilfer laptops, tools, big-screen TV, cash and more

Oceanside RCMP received 256 complaints between Sept. 29 and Oct. 5.

Qualicum Bay writer Linda Tenney dies after battle with cancer

Celebration of life set for Nov. 2 at Lighthouse Community Centre

Pole-climbing thieves pilfering wire in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Repairs are costly and thefts jeopardize public safety

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

Union says Western Forest Products refuses to budge from ‘unreasonable concessions’

According to a press release, both parties met on Oct. 16, 18, 19, and 20.

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

B.C. mayor apologizes for removal of Queen’s portrait from council chambers

‘I prefer to be inclusive of the many aspects of our history’

Environment Canada issues gale warnings for western Vancouver Island

Gale warnings in effect for most of Vancouver Island and west coast Mainland

Report suggests new BC Ferries terminal near YVR

Metro Vancouver currently has two ferry terminals at northern and southern reaches

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Most Read