A long awaited town hall style meeting about Parksville’s $24 million water treatment plant attracted around 100 people to Knox United Church Thursday evening.
Mayor Marc Lefebvre gave a brief history of the project and scaled down “plan B,” which was developed when it became clear they couldn’t count on the traditional two thirds funding from provincial and federal governments.
The original 24 mega-litre per day intake would have met Parksville and Nanoose Bay’s water needs for an estimated 40 years for $37 million. The new $24 million plan for eight mega-litres will meet the needs for eight to 10 years before additions have to be made, according to the Englishman River Water Service.
Lefebvre said there will be a referendum late this year or early 2016 — depending when they find out about grants — on borrowing $5.4 million, which would mean a tax increase of 2.25 per cent from 2016-2024, an increase of $4.33 for the average house.
With over 20 members of the public taking to the mic to voice concerns and ask question, including some long speeches, the tone was generally civil and muted with most people agreeing a plant is needed — due to an Island Health decree that all surface water must be treated by 2017 — but many questioned the size, cost and number of options considered.
Some pleaded for a public water board to oversee the project and several spoke of the huge expense, suggesting we should build the smallest facility possible for now and leave the future costs to the future residents.
There was tension evident on council as Coun. Leanne Salter said several times she didn’t know how the intake location ended up so much further down the river than originally proposed, only to have Lefebvre repeat that it was the result of a well documented 10 year negation between Island Health, who wants it as far upstream as possible, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, who want it downstream.
For much more information visit www.englishmanriverwaterservice.ca, for a video check www.city.parksville.bc.ca in a few days.