Imagine a pipeline a few steps from your back door.
The residents of Trill Drive in Parksville are facing that reality and pleading with the city to change its plans.
Part of the city’s new water treatment and distribution system — a $28 million project that got the go-ahead from voters in a referendum last fall — is a transmission line running along the rail corridor from the new intake on the Englishman River to the Springwood reservoir.
The routing of that pipeline was decided at an April 18 council meeting. Part of the route has the pipeline and accompanying service road on the south side of the railway tracks only a few steps from the backyards of about 40 houses on Trill Drive, chewing up lawns and shrubbery and flower beds decorated by the residents on a two-metre strip of land they recognize is not their property, but it abuts their tiny backyards so they have dressed it up. The residents say their backyards are tiny and close up against the rail bed because the city mandated that much setback from Trill Drive in 2006 before the homes were constructed.
On the north side of the tracks near Trill Drive are the backs of five-acre lots on Evergreen Way (in Regional District of Nanaimo jurisdiction), with houses way back from the rail bed.
The residents of Trill Drive asked the city to reconsider the positioning of the pipeline, to no avail.
“As previously advised, the north side has been chosen for installation of the transmission lines in accordance with the Island Corridor Foundation trail guidelines and to provide separation from fibre optic cables on the south side,” Parskville’s CAO Debbie Comis wrote in response to the request of Trill Drive resident Grant Donaldson. “Any interruption of service to the fibre optic cables costs thousands of dollars in downtime and would make the project unaffordable.”
Comis said the issue would not come back to council for reconsideration.
Donaldson and other Trill Drive residents hosted Mayor Marc Lefebvre and councillors Sue Powell, Kirk Oates and Leanne Salter for a look at the situation. They said they were not happy with the response they received from Comis and fired off another letter to the mayor.
“The Trill Drive and Creekside residents are profoundly disappointed with your decision,” wrote Donaldson. “We thought that your visit to our neighbourhoods had at least given you cause to have council take another look at the location of the pipeline and access road.”
This week, The NEWS visited the area. The untrained eye can clearly see how the placement of the pipeline on the north side of the tracks (the Evergreen side), would have much less impact on residents and the vegetation (trees, etc.) that line the un-used rail bed.
“We’re not against the pipeline; we know it’s got to go in,” said Trill Drive’s Charlie McNutt.
Donaldson, McNutt’s next-door neighbour, still wants council to reconsider its decision, hopefully at its next meeting on Monday night.
“In our view council made that decision on the 18th of April without critical information,” said Donaldson. “And the reasons for the mayor not reconsidering are underwhelming.”
“If there’s a good reason to put it on our side, let us know,” said Dale Nagra, another Trill Drive resident.
Mark Kuhn is the developer of the nearby Creekside development and is standing with the Trill Drive residents in his opposition to the routing of the pipeline.
“It will have a major impact on property values and a major environmental impact — the flooding of 44 homes,” said Kuhn.
As it stands right now, the city seems to be saying the routing will not change. Apparently the resolve of the residents isn’t about to change either.
“We are not giving up,” said Lynn Donaldson.