They weren’t on the formal agenda, but they made sure they were heard.
Residents of Trill Drive, unhappy with the proposed alignment of a waterline that may end up a few steps from their back doors, confronted the mayor and a councillor outside chambers Monday night after a Parksville city council meeting.
Council made a decision April 18 on the routing of the pipe that will connect the new intake on the Englishman River to the Springwood well fields. The line will run along the E&N railway and Trill Drive residents want to see it on the south side of the tracks, not the north side near their houses.
Mayor Marc Lefebvre refused a request from residents to re-visit the issue, but he read a prepared statement near the end of the council meeting on Monday night that opened the door for comments from other councillors.
“I had no idea (when she voted in favour of the routing on April 18) how it was going to impact the people on Trill,” said Coun. Leanne Salter. “This was a done deal and that was it. For me, that’s not how we should be assisting our residents. We have just bulldozed through with this.”
Coun. Al Greir was sympathetic with the residents’ concerns.
“I can understand the frustration of the residents of that area,” said Greir. “Maybe we weren’t fully informed on the 18th.”
Coun. Kirk Oates said he didn’t want to be lumped into the group of councillors who say they may not have been fully informed when they voted April 18.
“I know why I put my hand in the air,” said Oates, who visited the Trill Drive portion of the route, as did other councillors, after the April 18 vote.
“To the untrained eye, it looks like the residents of Trill Drive have a point,” Oates continued, explaining how he returned to city hall with questions for staff after he returned from the site visit.
“I rely heavily on the people who we pay well to advise us,” said Oates. “I do not have an absence of trust in our staff. I feel sympathy for the people of Trill Drive, but for me this is a decision based on science.”
In his prepared statement, Lefebvre said the routing was decided by experts and with input from the owner of the railway, the Island Corridor Foundation. The biggest issue seems to be the fact a fibre-optic cable buried along the south side of the tracks and the desire to keep any pipe construction away from that.
“Fibre optic and water do not mix,” said Lefebvre.
City CAO Debbie Comis said any disruption of this key fibre optic cable through construction of the pipe would cost the the city $1,000/minute.
A portion of the line will run on the north side of the tracks near Martindale Road residents, who had come to council months ago to plead their case about slope/draining concerns. The line will then cross back to the south side until it reaches Springwood, including the area close to the Trill Drive homes.
On Monday night, Salter said she wanted the city to re-visit the routing. She said she wanted some south side/north side cost analysis and she also said she spoke with ICF officials who said “nothing is impossible” in terms of the pipe’s routing.
“I think we need to look at what the options are and we need to cost this out — it wasn’t,” said Salter.
There was no motion put forward to re-visit the issue. The mayor promised to strike a committee that includes Trill Drive residents when it comes time to place the pipe and any access roads. The committee, said Lefebvre, would discuss issues related to draining and privacy screening.
After the meeting, Trill Drive residents (there were at least a dozen in attendance), wanted to talk more about the issue. Both Oates and Lefebvre were surrounded by residents outside the gallery, engaging in discussions that looked heated at times.