Delay water summit, consultants say

Consulting firm Impact Resolutions is recommending that the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) hold off on a water summit proposed for the fall after collecting feedback from a series of public meetings about the Coast’s water shortage.

The firm synthesized public input from the Water Dialogues, held early June, into 15 recommendations.

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Topping that list was “Act now!”

Other items included diversifying water supply, protecting watersheds, controlling development, moving ahead with a regional water governance initiative, allowing for “dual water” grey water systems for non-potable water use, investing in water collection through rebates, moving ahead with infrastructure projects already underway, and providing more opportunities for public input and communication, and collaboration between governments, including shíshálh Nation.

Based on that feedback, the consultants suggested delaying the water summit, which was included in the board’s recent declaration of a water crisis, to be held in the fall or winter.

“Rather than putting on a water summit immediately after a drought, we suggest public participation events with a more modest theme of conducting a community ‘check-in’ on how the drought management plan went,” the consulting firm said in its report. The report suggested staff time should be spent on infrastructure projects and managing the drought management plan instead.

The report also provided a series of policy options based on the public recommendations, such as updating the Comprehensive Regional Water Plan, creating a “Water Security Committee” with local leaders, and communicating “a new, integrated approach to resolve the water supply crisis.”

A report on options for moving ahead with the report’s recommendations is expected to be brought to the board this month.

The Water Dialogues were held at the beginning of June in Sechelt and Gibsons, and were facilitated by Silas White of Impact Resolutions. The firm was hired by the SCRD on contract for $20,000.

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