The regional district director for the area including Ridgewood Road on the North Shore is willing to provide $75,000 toward a new water treatment plant for the neighbourhood.
Ron Mickel says he hasn’t formally replied to the request from the improvement district, but has asked staff to supply the money from his gas tax fund, which targets environmental initiatives such as energy conversation and drinking water safety.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” Mickel said. “I believe the money is there. Of course the board has to support it as well, but I expect they’ll be happy.”
Residents voted in 2010 to turn their water system over to the regional district and were in talks with the developer of Shannon Orchards about sharing its treatment plant. However, the housing project has been delayed and in the meantime Interior Health issued an enforcement letter to the improvement district. The system has been under boil advisory since 1995.
Water users say the costs of installing a standalone treatment plant have “come down dramatically” and they have worked with a local company on a $175,000 proposal. If the regional district contributes $75,000, ratepayers have indicated they’re willing to pay the rest through a special levy. The improvement district would own and operate the plant.
“I realize they’re tired of waiting for Shannon Orchards to get on side,” Mickel says. “If the Ministry of Health is happy and we are satisfied they can accomplish what they set out to, for the price they’ve been quoted, I support it.”
Mickel said it isn’t necessary for the water system to be a regional district service to receive gas tax money. For example, the fund has previously been tapped for efficiency upgrades to the Taghum hall, which is not owned by the regional district.
“The reason it’s out there is because improvement districts and societies aren’t eligible for infrastructure funding,” he said. “This is the only funding they could possibly get ahold of.”
The Union of BC Municipalities, which administers the money, decides on project eligibility.
Mickel lives on Ridgewood Road but says he’s been assured he’s not in a conflict because he isn’t the only one who stands to benefit from the new treatment system.
He expects the matter to appear on the regional district’s May agenda and the improvement district will hold its annual general meeting soon afterward.
Mickel said going it alone on water treatment doesn’t rule out a joint sewage system with Shannon Orchards, although he hasn’t heard anything lately on the development. The purchase of the property was expected to close last month.