Residents who live in San Pareil have agreed to costly water system improvements.
The petition from the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) asking residents to favour a 1.4 million dollar plan that would see modifications to the water system to improve fire flow in the area has passed.
Homeowners in the subdivision had until November 4 to submit their petitions to the RDN and just days before the deadline it didn’t look as though the petition would get enough support to pass.
Mike Donnelly, Manager of Community Water for the RDN said if less than 50 percent of the parcels liable to be charged for the water upgrades had not signed on, the project would have stalled resulting in increased costs for a new system down the road.
He said he was pleased the petition made it past the 50 percent mark and it has officially passed but he admitted it wasn’t without controversy.
The neighborhood appeared split on the issue and some residents even accused the RDN of trying to ram the petition process down their throats.
The Shorewood San Pareil Owners and Residents Association (SSPORA) had come out in favour of the upgrades but not all members were on board and the issue resulted in some heated exchanges between residents in the neighborhood.
As it currently stands, the water system infrastructure is old and if a serious fire were to occur in the area there is the potential that there wouldn’t be adequate water flow to put it out.
There was also concern that without proper fire protection residents could face an increase in their fire insurance premiums.
While some residents of the San Pareil subdivision are concerned they may not have enough water pressure in their hydrants to protect them from a fire, others believe the situation is not as bad as officials are making it out to be.
There is no grant money available at this time to help pay for the upgrades, so residents will be paying for the water upgrade bill in their property taxes.
In a November newsletter of the Shorewood/San Pareil Owners and Residents Association there was one last call urging residents to look at all the facts clearly outlined by RDN engineers about the state of existing water system in the area and to sign on the dotted line so the upgrades can proceed.
Warren Banks, a retired fire chief living in the area, said should a fire occur on the north side of Shorewood Drive involving a home it is reasonable to say there is little to no hope of saving it or preventing damage to surrounding properties.
He agreed the south side of Shorewood Drive that has fire hydrants may have a better supply of water but that remains to be seen.
“Considering the time delays in reloading the tanker trucks and the progress of the fire you are in big trouble,” he stated.
He said he is relieved the petition passed because now they have the opportunity to bring in a water system that will properly serve the community.
He admitted it is frustrating for residents who don’t want to see their taxes go up by about $400 per year but when one considers the option of increased taxes compared to an annual increase in fire insurance rates the amounts are likely similar and it is better to be safe than sorry.