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Updated: Province grants water licence for Church Road well field

The project is a go
N.Church Road drilled
A test well for the Church Road well field being drilled.

The province has granted a wish on the list of many Coasters – the Church Road well field officially has its water licence. 

On Dec. 20, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) announced that it had the licence in hand, after three years of work to get the go-ahead for the Granthams Landing area. 

The Church Road well field, once online, is projected to provide nearly five million litres of water per day to the Chapman water system. 

On Jan. 13, the SCRD board is scheduled to vote on the contract award for up to $9 million for construction of the project. There will be financial incentives for the chosen company. Remko Rosenboom, the SCRD’s general manager of infrastructure services, told Coast Reporter if the company finishes the project ahead of schedule, they could earn a bonus of up to $50,000. If the project is finished after a certain timeframe, a penalty will be applied.

Information about the project’s cost and an overview of the successful proposal will be presented at the Jan. 13 board meeting as part of the contract bid information. 

The SCRD estimates the project will take about eight months from start to finish and could be online in early September or late August, Rosenboom said. The project includes installing or replacing water mains and upgrades to the water treatment facility. 

“While we are hopeful that this water source will be available in late summer, we cannot commit to a firm date and we will provide regular updates to our community as the construction continues,” Rosenboom said in the press release. “It is intended that the addition of this water source, along with water conservation in our community will result in the community not having to exceed Stage 2 or Stage 3 water regulations through the summer months.”

In previous years, Stage 4 water restrictions were more likely to come into effect in August and September, although 2021 saw concerns for October’s water supply before the system was replenished by late-September rains.

“So, any week that the project can be finished earlier, could help us,” Rosenboom said of the upcoming summer’s water supply. If the project is finished in mid-September, he added, we could already see rain by that time.

“At least if we have an extended drought, like we had last year, it could definitely help if we can start using it in September,” he said of the Church Road well field. “We're hoping to be able to award the contract in January, and then finish it as soon as possible. And hopefully, it can still benefit the community this year.”

The SCRD first submitted an application for the Church Road water licence in October 2019. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) began processing it in December that year, and the SCRD provided more information about creek flow monitoring and fish habitat assessments through 2020. The SCRD officially received the water licence approval on Dec. 17.

The ministry prioritized this licence over others, Rosenboom told Coast Reporter. The provincial government can take three or four years to process such a licence, and because of to their backlog, “any other applications that were submitted in 2019, they might not even be picked up yet for initial review,” Rosenboom said.

Since 2019, the SCRD has completed studies, applications and discussions with Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation, the provincial government and other local governments.

“This water licence has been a long time coming so we are delighted to see that it has finally been issued by the Provincial Government,” SCRD board chair Darnelda Siegers said in the release. “I want to recognize the efforts of our staff who have worked hard to move this project forward and I would also like to thank government partners on the Sunshine Coast for everything they have done on this project to date.”

Once work begins on the project, Rosenboom said there will be a significant impact on residents and traffic in the area during the construction phase. The SCRD will reach out to residents in the Granthams and Upper Gibsons areas and especially along Elphinstone Avenue, Fisher Road and Reed Road, where they will see a lot of construction in front of their houses as the new water mains are installed. Rosenboom said they will try to complete the primary stretch on Reed Road before the summer season. The SCRD will provide updates and discuss with residents how impacts can be mitigated. 

More information about the project can be found at letstalk.scrd.ca/church-road.

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