While Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek said he is wary of regional water management discussion, Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer suggested a different perspective.
“Maybe we should be thinking a little bit out of the box, that may be a massive opportunity for us,” Luchtmeijer said, referencing Coun. Barry Avis’ remarks about Parksville having both “massive” water problems and “massive” development plans.
“We have water, we have lots of water. It might be an opportunity to sell bulk water to Parksville,” he said, throwing it out for general consideration.
“Someone else is having a problem, we might be able to help them along, at the same time generate some revenue to cover our costs.”
“It’s not necessarily our water but it is our extraction system and delivery system, so let’s think opportunity here,” Luchtmeijer said.
“We haven’t had that discussion yet,” Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Sailland later told The NEWS, suggesting if council wanted to pursue it, it would be the start of a longterm discussion and process.
He said “water is obviously a hot topic,” that will continue to come up in various contexts.
The town does have the ability to pump and measure large amounts of water into trucks for things like fire fighting, Sailland said, but he wasn’t sure if there are currently sufficient connections to pipe water to Parksville.
Luchtmeijer’s suggestion was in reference to Westbroek expanding on comments he made at a Regional District of Nanaimo meeting (Seeking Solutions, The NEWS, Sept. 10).
The RDN board had been discussing the possibility of developing a regional water governance model. In 2011, Qualicum Beach opted not to join the Englishman River Water Service, formed to build a new river water intake and treatment plant in Parksville, citing the strength of their existing water supply.
RDN CAO Paul Thorkelsson previously said there have been calls from the community for “an approach to governance that recognizes those boundaries that exist for municipalities don’t make any sense, we’re in this together, it’s a bigger issue than boundaries.”
“I’m kind of leery about turning over our control over our water supply,” Westbroek said at last week’s town council meeting. “Whether it’s communicating restrictions, or pricing, or managing our water sources. I think Qualicum Beach — our staff — does a tremendous job. I think a lot of cities could learn from us, we’ve planned our supply well, we’ve bought our recharge areas… and I think we need the water supply for our future growth, which will happen eventually, and also to provide water for our own food production.”
“I was speaking against the idea that we would be part of a governance set up between the (RDN) and other municipalities in our area.”
While the RDN board will continue to discuss the possibility of a regional approach to water management, Qualicum Beach council didn’t table any motions or ask for any specific follow-up from staff.