EDITORIAL: Reliable water

There are still some hurdles and work for the city and the RDN to overcome, perhaps most importantly are some assurances from Island Health

The people have spoken, or at least 18.6 per cent of them.

Democracies are run by those who show up, so it’s pointless to grumble about the poor voter turnout for the referendum Saturday that gave the City of Parksville permission to borrow $5.6 million to help fund a new water treatment plant.

It is disappointing that less than one in five eligible Parksville residents bothered to vote in this referendum, but as much as this saying is overused and annoying: it is what it is.

For comparison purposes, only 36 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot in the Nov. 2014 municipal elections in Parksville.

All that aside, there are still some hurdles and work for the city and the RDN to overcome. Perhaps most importantly are some assurances from Island Health.

It is the health authority that provided the chief impetus for the construction of this new facility. It has decreed that all surface water (which primarily comes from rivers) must be treated in a new, improved fashion before it is piped to homes and this must be done by the end of 2016. Residents of Parksville and Nanoose Bay currently get about 50 per cent of their water from the Englishman River.

Island Health has not officially granted Parksville and Nanoose Bay an extension for this new order. Since the new facility won’t be up and running until late 2017 at the earliest, if Island Health does not grant an extension, residents are likely to be faced with daily boil water advisories for a year or more.

Understandably, Island Health did not want to talk about extensions or make any comment about a water treatment plant that may or may not get approval from voters. Now that the referendum has passed, it would be good to hear from Island Health on this issue, and soon.

It’s difficult to think of anything more important than a reliable, safe source of water. Whether it’s a glass out of your tap at home or the millions of litres it takes to operate one of the world-class resorts in this region, everything grinds to a halt without water.

From personal health and hygiene to hundreds of jobs, the issue of safe, reliable water touches us all, from our homes to the greater regional economy.

• TODAY: starting at 4:30 p.m. is a dinner, followed by a panel discussion, in support of issues facing the homeless in our region. It’s at the Quality Resort Bayside in Parksville. The suggested donation for the dinner is $10-$20. We hope to see many residents from all walks of life at this event.

— Editorial by John Harding

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