Maybe the Town of Qualicum Beach shouldn’t have pulled back on its commitment to the Arrowsmith Water Service, says one town councillor, and maybe they should revisit the issue.
“My objection has always been the procedure we used to get to this point,” said Councillor Mary Brouilette at the final meeting of the old council recently.
“I felt it was not open to the public, with not enough consultation and no debate at this table when this was presented.”
Chief administrative officer Mark Brown said the town opted to change its involvement in the AWS program because they are not likely to need water from the system for quite some time.
“This was the best scenario Qualicum Beach could hope for, given that we don’t need water at this time,” he said. “It takes the original AWS agreement and splits it into two parts, the dam and water licence and the intake and treatment.”
The town, he said, remains committed to the first portion of the project, but has backed off on the second.
“The town can buy into that second agreement at any time,” he said. “This allows us to keep our existing share of the water licence and allocation, but we don’t have to pay for the capital or operating fund for the treatment plant at this time.”
Outgoing Coun. Barry Avis waded into the issue, noting the AWS agreement is broader than it ever has been, including the Englishman River water source as well as the Little Qualicum River
“It’s a broadening of the AWS, which I think is essential to our whole region,” he said. “Previously it was just one water source. We are as committed to original plan as ever, the only difference being we opted not to pay for the capital cost at present because we see no need.”
Avis added a consultant’s report indicated the town likely wouldn’t need water from the Arrowsmith dam for a minimum of 30 years.
“We opted to stay in, but opted to buy in as needed,” he said.
Brouilette wasn’t convinced, suggesting the next council should consider revisiting the issue.
“I believe we should have gone to the intake station stage,” she said. “My recommendation to the next council will be to re-discuss these positions. This is not a closed item and there is more research and certainly more openness required.”