Public in the dark

Regional District of Nanaimo chair calls lack of communication 'a mystery'

RDN chairman Joe Stanhope said he has a lot of questions for staff after learning 4.7 million litres of well water was discharged in a 45-day period at the Nanoose Fire Hall — more than one year ago in late 2012.

Stanhope said the water inefficiencies were only brought to his attention a few weeks ago.

“Communication to the public is, as far as I’m concerned, probably one of the most important things we do,” said Stanhope, who has requested a full report on the issue from staff slated for Tuesday.

Additionally, Regional District of Nanaimo  director George Holme, who represents Nanoose Bay, said he only learned about the water issue “a few weeks ago from a colleague in an e-mail.”

However, RDN manager of water and utility services Mike Donnelly said the inefficiencies “came to light right away.”

“Back in 2012 when we fired up the system it became evident that more water was being used than what was initially defined,” said Donnelly.

According to Donnelly, RDN staff tried to tweak equipment with little success and eventually stopped using the geothermal heat pump system and started using their backup gas boiler to heat the fire hall — in an effort to reduce inefficiencies.

Stanhope called it “a mystery” as to why board members were not informed sooner.

“Staff does not keep things from the board when there are issues like this,” said Stanhope. “That’s not their role — their role is to act on it immediately and advise the board.”

Stanhope said he is concerned, but no more water will be wasted.

“In retrospect the board should have been updated,” said Stanhope. “Maybe staff didn’t realize the significance until now.”

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