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UPDATED: SCRD begins approval process for $7.25M water-meter loan

AAP to run from May 21 to July 7
SCRD water AAP
Sunshine Coast Regional District directors vote in favour of initiating the alternative approval process for installing more water meters at the May 13 board meeting.

The alternate approval process (AAP) for adding up to about 4,800 water meters in the Sechelt area has gotten the official go-ahead to begin. 

Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) directors voted unanimously to launch the AAP at a board meeting on May 13, after corporate officer Sherry Reid told the board that the SCRD had received the required permission from the province.

The process, which runs from May 21 to July 7, seeks electoral approval for long-term borrowing to fund up to $7.25 million needed for the third phase of the water-meter installation project. The loan authorization bylaw previously received three readings at the March 11 meeting.

Electors from areas A, B, D, E, F and the District of Sechelt will be able to vote in the AAP. Staff estimate the total number of electors to be 21,208. If less than 10 per cent, or 2,120 people, submit elector responses by the deadline, the AAP will automatically obtain elector approval.

The public response period for this AAP has been extended by nine days to accommodate the pandemic, giving electors 39 days after a second notice is published to respond. Following the deadline of submission, the results will be reported at the July 8 SCRD board meeting. Depending on the results, the board may vote to adopt the loan bylaw and would then apply for certificate of approval on Aug. 7. A potential assent vote would be on Sept. 25.

In 2018, the SCRD also pitched a loan authorization bylaw for the Sechelt phase of the water-meter installation project, asking to borrow $6 million over 20 years, but that AAP was defeated after 2,454 elector response forms opposing the loan were submitted.

At the May 13 meeting, Sechelt director Alton Toth asked staff to specify on the forms that they can be dropped off in-person at the 24-hour drop box. AAP forms can be downloaded online, printed and filled out. The forms can also be picked up from 1975 Field Rd. during regular business hours. Completed response forms can be mailed in or submitted via the drop-off box at the Field Road office at any time before the deadline. Reid said an information booth will be on site during the response period to answer questions from the public.

The projected cost to homeowners for the loan, if approved, is estimated at about $54 annually for 15 years, staff told the board. That information will also be included in the package that the form comes with.

In an earlier infrastructure committee meeting on May 13, Chuck Gould spoke as a delegation in favour of installing water meters. Gould, a resident of lower Selma Park Road, told the board about how a 2015 installation of water meters at nine homes in his area successfully identified leaks at six homes and accounted for an estimated one million litres of water lost every year. At his house, Gould said, by replacing two pipes identified by the SCRD, he was able to fix the problem.

Every Friday throughout the AAP, the SCRD will be answering the most common questions asked on their website, Let's Talk SCRD.

Water source update

At the infrastructure committee meeting, directors also heard the month’s update on the water source. General manager of infrastructure services Remko Rosenboom said he’s concerned by the increasingly drier-than-average weather conditions.

The snowpack as last measured, Rosenboom said, was similar to last month’s average, but the measurements were taken before the recent warm weather, which has since seen an increase in snowmelt. While earlier this month it looked “promising,” he said, the monthly precipitation levels may be cause for concern.

From February onwards, the Sechelt Airport Weather Station has shown increasingly drier-than-average precipitation levels this year and there is not much precipitation forecast in the coming weeks, Rosenboom told the board. The forecast for the upcoming three months shows average temperatures, but Rosenboom said the continuation of dry weather could result in escalation of stages of water conservation measures once snowpack melts, which may be sometime in June.

A Let’s Talk Water presentation by SCRD staff and several board directors will be held on May 26 at 7 p.m. online. A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation.