At its March 18 meeting, the SCRD board gave three readings to a bylaw to authorize taking a loan of up to $7.25 million to pay for Phase Three of its water metering project. As the borrowing is proposed to be repaid over 15 years, an Alternative Approval Process (AAP) to gain elector approval is required before it can be endorsed.
Remko Rosenboom, SCRD director of infrastructure services, advised the board that about 4,800 new meter installations in the Sechelt area are to be part of the project’s third phase. In addition, about 1,100 meters that are not compliant with new technology are to be replaced.
This will be the SCRDs second attempt to seek elector approval to take a loan for this work. In mid-2018, an AAP for $6 million garnered enough opposition so that the board could not consider taking the loan.
When asked why project costs had increased, Rosenboom indicated that factors including inflation, cost increases, and updates to installation practices related to archaeology were involved. He also noted that the new amount includes a contingency that was not part of the previous amount.
The Loan Authorization bylaw will be forwarded to the Province for approval from the Inspector of Municipalities. The timeline for review is approximately 6-8 weeks. Once approved, they can move forward with an AAP to seek elector approval. The SCRD anticipate that a report will be brought to the board in mid-May to affirm the AAP, including the timeline for responses.
In considering the proposed loan bylaw, Sechelt Area Director and Mayor Darnelda Siegers said, “I hope that the community has sufficient information that this board has taken water supply issues seriously. We will ensure that during this process that we will get sufficient information out for electors to make informed decisions.”
In an Infrastructure Services Committee meeting held earlier on March 18, staff reviewed an updated integrated approach to the water supply. In that report, they estimated the capital investment in water meters was a more cost-efficient way to secure the region’s water supply when contrasted with new groundwater supply projects. Their estimate is that water saved once metering is fully introduced would cost less than $10 per cubic meter. Capital costs to access additional water from the Church Road and Langdale well fields or the Gray Creek area are projected to be in the $15 to $25 per cubic meter range.
Sechelt Area Director Alton Toth said that he planned to use details on those cost comparisons in his efforts to convey the need to proceed with water metering. Toth noted the material clearly shows that “new water source initiatives are not enough to address the region’s supply issues.” Connie Jordison