The Regional District of Nanaimo vowed to stand beside the City of Parksville in their race against the clock for grant money.
“We are joint venture partners and we are working together,” said Mike Donnelly, RDN water services manager.
Donnelly said the RDN is hoping grant money for a new water system will come through in time to hold a referendum concurrent with the upcoming municipal election on Nov. 15, 2014, which would reduce the cost of an otherwise expensive referendum.
“It’s a process issue,” said Donnelly. “Referendums cost a fair amount of money so in local government if you can hold a referendum at the same time as an election you aren’t spending money twice.”
The RDN’s electoral area of Nanoose Bay — with the City of Parksville — are being forced to build a new water system after an Island Health decree that all groundwater must be treated. Donnelly said the preliminary estimates for the Englishman River Water Service project are around $37 million, split between Nanoose Bay (26 per cent) and Parksville (76 per cent).
A news release issued by the City of Parksville confirmed city council sent letters to federal and provincial ministries outlining their “difficult situation and the need for senior government funding.”
The letter was sent to Terry Lake, B.C. Minister of Health, Premier Christy Clark, Minister Todd Stone, Minister Coralee Oakes, MLA Michelle Stilwell, Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health for Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and MP James Lunney.
Donnelly said the RDN will stand beside and support the city.
“We are with them (Parksville) on this,” he said. “We are working together.”
Donnelly said the regional district will follow-suit and also send letters vying for funding assistance in the ERWS project. He said his fingers are crossed funding with come through prior to Aug. 5, in time to submit a referendum question.
Donnelly said the referendum question will be for Parksville residents and properties in the Nanoose Bay water service peninsula.
“The question will be about borrowing,” he said. “It will be something along the lines of: ‘Are you in favour of borrowing X amount of dollars for the construction of a new water system.’”
The Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce also sent letters to the federal and provincial governments explaining support is crucial to ensure development cost charges, water rates and taxes remain competitive to allow them to continue the work they are doing to attract new business and the expansion of existing businesses.
Donnelly said the population is growing on Vancouver Island.
“People keep coming here and we can’t stop them so we have to do two things: prepare for those people coming to Vancouver Island and manage a water resource for the people who are already here,” he said. “We have another summer of 30 degree weather and people need water and they need to realize it doesn’t come out of thin air — I think people get that we just have to make sure we get the project done in an affordable way.”