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Sechelt plans investment in Dusty Road

Council commits $80,000 to secure a non-potable water source – pending provincial licensing
The test well at Dusty Road is next to the District of Sechelt's Public Works building. It is also near the Sechelt Landfill and mining operations.

Sechelt council is revisiting the plan to use the Dusty Road well as a non-potable water source.

On May 8, Sechelt council endorsed Mayor John Henderson’s motion to commit $80,000 to turn the existing Dusty Road well into an operational, public non-potable water source.

The money is to come from one or more reserve funds, which staff will identify.

This motion was discussed last year but was ultimately defeated due to staff’s projection that it would take 1.5 to three years to get a water licence.  

The well is to be operational “as soon as practicable upon receipt of the provincial water licence,” states the motion – amended from Henderson’s originally proposed timeline of Aug. 15. 

Council is to inform the province of its intentions and direct staff to seek approval from necessary authorities.

Henderson said the main driver behind the motion is he feels the district needs additional water sources. He said it could be used to fill district trucks, assist wildfire suppression and alleviate traffic at the water resource centre well. 

Coun. Alton Toth questioned the originally proposed cutoff date of Aug. 15, raising concern about the position that would put staff in if the district has not received a provincial water licence by then.

Henderson clarified that he was not suggesting that the well would be operating in the middle of August. “But it would be a nice ability for us to go to Victoria if need be and say it's ready to go, we just need a signature,” he said. 

Questioning if they can prove the water demand, Coun. Adam Shepherd remarked that the fire department has said the Dusty Road well is of limited use and asked if the proposed budget could be used to improve water volume at other locations.

Kirn Dhillon Sechelt director of engineering and operations highlighted that the budget was specific to the Dusty Road well, saying it was unclear how the money could impact other water sources without additional work and pointing out that changes to existing wells would impact their current licences and would require communication with the province.

Asked about lineups at the Ebbtide well, Dhillon said they had received feedback that the pumps were not fast enough and made necessary enhancements. 

He added that Sechelt measured water consumption during the 2022 local state of emergency and found that over a month and a half, one-fifth of an Olympic swimming pool (roughly 500,000 litres) had been taken from the Ebbtide location.

Dhillon said his concern over getting the well operational without operating it is that the warranty on the pump may expire before it’s used and equipment degradation such as gaskets going brittle from sitting in water unused. “It makes more sense to put a pump in a well if you’re intending to use the well right away,” Dhillon said.

He added that the Dusty Road well has the potential to be a long-term solution.

Discussing Henderson’s original motion, Toth said he isn't sure if the district is allowed to install infrastructure without a water licence in hand. He put forward a motion changing “staff will ensure the well is operational as soon as possible” to “as soon as practicable upon receipt of the provincial water licence.”

The amendment passed with Henderson opposed. The mayor said he would rather put a pump in the well sooner to test the viability and then remove it if needed while waiting for the water license.

The amended motion passed unanimously.

Jordan Copp is the Coast Reporter’s civic and Indigenous affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.