Parksville councillor’s resignation plays role in contentious vote on watermain routing

A motion to re-visit the costing of options was defeated after a 3-3 vote

The absence of Al Greir had a tangible effect on Trill Drive residents at Parksville city council’s meeting Monday night.

Coun. Leanne Salter introduced a motion Monday asking city staff to provide a cost analysis on routing a new water main on both the south and north sides of the E&N railway.

Council previously passed a motion to route the pipe on the north side, close to the property lines of some Trill Drive residents, a group that has been vocal in its opposition to the plan.

Salter said the motion was brought forward on Greir’s behalf.

The vote on the motion to provide the cost analysis and presumably re-visit the decision on the north-side routing tied 3-3, which meant it was defeated. Salter and councillors Teresa Patterson and Kirk Oates voted in favour of the motion. Mayor Marc Lefebvre and councillors Sue Powell and Mary Beil were opposed. Presumably Greir would have voted in favour.

City staff and Lefebvre said changing the routing that’s already been approved could cost the city more than $200,000 and could delay the project beyond a Sept. 2018 deadline created by Island Health demanding all surface water be treated.

The water main in question will go from the new intake location on the Englishman River to the Springwood well fields, using the railway right-of-way. It’s part of a $28 million project funded by the tax dollars from all three levels of government. City residents passed a referendum late last year (80 per cent in favour) that gave the city permission to borrow $5.6 million for its portion of the funding.

Trill Drive residents have been a fixture at city council meetings for months, hoping council would at first decide to route the pipe on the south side of the tracks, and then hoping the city would revisit the plan to go with the north side.

In making the motion on Monday night, Salter said when council voted in favour of the north-side plan, it did not have all the information it needed on options.

“We don’t have a true cost-out,” said Salter. “We never had one. And people who have brought up really good points have been dismissed.”

Oates agreed.

“I’ve asked the question many times — how much? — and I haven’t got an answer,” said Oates. “I think that as elected people we have to be responsible to the people who put us here.”

Powell said as a “lay person” she put her faith in staff’s recommendations on the routing of the water main. She said she still feels that way and she also said she hopes she has now seen the end of this routing debate.

“Staff has no reason to lie to us; staff has no reason to put something in writing that isn’t true,” said Powell. “I hope to God this is the last motion to come to this council dealing with this issue.”

Salter said the experience will change the way she views council votes in the future.

“I certainly won’t be making decisions quickly like I did before,” said Salter. “That was my error.”

• Other than words of thanks and praise for Greir — who resigned last week citing health concerns — there was no discussion Monday night about the timing of the byelection to fill his seat.

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