Skip to content

Area A water master plan

About 80 people attended the first public meeting for developing a master plan to manage fresh water resources in Area A, held at Pender Harbour Community Hall Oct. 19.

About 80 people attended the first public meeting for developing a master plan to manage fresh water resources in Area A, held at Pender Harbour Community Hall Oct. 19.

Representatives of the Garden Bay Waterworks District (GBWD), South Pender Harbour Waterworks District (SPHWD), Ministry of Environment, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA), Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) presented their positions, history and future concerns about quality, quantity, management and cost of water services.

GBWD chair Gerry Krantz said a recent increase in developments led to a review of the infrastructure, current situation and future projections for the district. All new properties will be metered, as will eventually all properties in the area. An application for an additional 15 million gallons is in the works. The immediate priorities Krantz outlined are to complete its merger with the SCRD, get the water licence approval, identify other purveyors of water and get necessary funding.

SPHWD chair Richard Frappier stated the district is comfortable with its present status and future projections but is prepared to entertain discussions about the possibility of developing a master plan. The district's current priority is lobbying for funding for improved infrastructure.

Bob Herath and Larry Barr of the Ministry of En-vironment suggested amal-gamation would be cost effective. The ministry would not allow licences to exceed the amount of water that lakes could naturally replenish. It would anticipate basing future decisions on the policies established by a master plan.

Tim Adams, VCHA health inspector and drinking water protection officer, pointed to the stringent requirements for water purveyors under the terms of the Drinking Water Protection Act. The higher standards set for testing and treating water are expensive and he recommended that the smaller districts look to the SCRD for assistance with funding.

Grant McBain, local Fish-eries officer, expressed serious concern about Sakinaw Lake sockeye salmon being almost extinct and Sakinaw coho also being challenged. McBain said the fragile fish habitat would not allow the taking of even an inch of water from Sakinaw and Ruby lakes. That inch would be enough to supply over 600 homes.

Steve Lee, SCRD infrastructure services manager, identified the SCRD's dual role as a purveyor of water to about 100 households on Hotel Lake and as the local government which provides and monitors services to all residents of Area A. He said a master plan should be a progressive document to be updated regularly, with short-, medium- and long-term goals, addressing growth, quality of water, environmental impacts, efficiency and effectiveness of service. He posed the questions of how the new requirements will be addressed and financed and who should lead the initiative.

A number of residents posed questions about groundwater studies and availability. Responses, primarily from Herath, indicated a very low level of interest in that, due largely to a need for extensive scientific studies for which there is no money.

While agreeing that SPHWD is doing well, government representatives and Madeira Park citizens expressed opinions that it should participate in the discussions leading to a master plan. Frappier promised to have a member of the board of directors attend the meetings.

SCRD Area A director John Rees reaffirmed the need for a master plan in view of the anticipated population growth of at least 31 per cent in the area over the next 15 years.Ê Subdivision applications in Area A have skyrocketed over the last three years, he added.Ê It is anticipated that Area A will require five million additional gallons of water every year. His concern was how to fund the studies.

Joe Harrison of the Area A Quality Water Association (AAQWA), which has been active in fighting for changes in local water management, agreed the time has come to work together. He proposed since the project could cost about $250,000, a referendum be held asking the citizens of Area A to help pay for it through taxation. The idea was well received. SPHWD agreed to be bound by the outcome of such a referendum.

Lee recommended the creation of a small group with a facilitator to create a management model. The general consensus was that the committee should be comprised of representatives from the meeting's panel and a member of the public."