Regional district takes steps toward the purchase of French Creek’s water system

Residents have been pushing for the RDN to purchase the water system from Epcor

Members of the French Creek Residents Association (FCRA) said they are pleased the Regional District of Nanaimo RDN) has taken the next step in the long process of purchasing the community’s water system from a private company.

This month, after an in-camera meeting, the RDN board of directors voted to release $50,000 from the Electoral Area G Community Works Fund to “undertake a valuation process.” The board also authorized $5,000 to support legal costs associated with this valuation process.

The motions were put forward by long-time French Creek RDN rep Joe Stanhope and seconded by Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek.

“Your board is very pleased with this result,” said a notice from the FCRA’s board of directors to its membership.

“This means the RDN will engage a firm to provide an evaluation of the utility to determine whether property owners can reasonably support the purchase cost.”

The FCRA board also said it expects that when this cost is determined, property owners will be told what to expect in terms of water-bill costs if a purchase goes ahead. The FCRA also said it expects a referendum over the issue.

The FCRA instigated these discussions in 2015 when it learned the water system’s owner, Epcor, received approval for increases in water rates.

“We commenced lobbying for the purchase of Epcor in June 2015, resulting from the exorbitant water rate increases approved by the Comptroller of Water Rights for 2015 through 2017,” said the board’s information letter to residents. “This action was the last straw for users in French Creek.”