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Directors butt heads over water strategy

Directors butt heads over water strategy

At the Dec. 21 meeting of the SCRD’s infrastructure services committee, directors debated water policy, and whether a key pillar of the regional water plan—the Chapman Lake expansion project—is viable or doomed to failure.

In November, Sechelt Mayor Bruce Milne went on record with his opinion that the SCRD had “a snowflake’s chance in hell of getting the province to redraw the boundaries of Tetrahedron Park.” (Chapman Lake, the major source of supply for the regional water system, lies within the park. The SCRD has applied for a boundary adjustment to exclude it so they can rebuild the water intake system to draw more water.)

Roberts Creek (Area D) Director Mark Lebbell defended the water plan at the Dec. 21 meeting, saying that Milne’s comment was “ill informed.”

Lebbell said other BC parks have made boundary amendments to support community water supplies. And he read out Tetrahedron’s vision statement: “The management plan for Tetrahedron Provincial Park will ensure a high level of water quality and quantity for the residents of the Sunshine Coast while preserving the integrity of the park….”

Lebbell, who said he had spent hundreds of hours studying the issue, claimed that alternatives presented by “self-identified environmentalists,” such as piping in water from Clowhom Lake, are impractical because of the immense infrastructure required.

“To obstruct the Chapman Lake process is very, very risky in terms of the long-term water future,” said Lebbell.

Both Milne and Lebbell, however, were frustrated with BC Parks, which has been sitting on the SCRD’s Chapman Lake request since April 2016.

A letter from BC Parks dated Nov. 28, 2017, gave the following update: “BC Parks is evaluating the options with respect to the water supply improvements proposed in Tetrahedron Park by the Sunshine Coast Regional District, including options for a public consultation process on the possible options.”

Milne said: “This is two weeks away from 2018 and we have senior civil servants in the parks area ‘evaluating options’…”

And Lebbell concurred, noting that the SCRD received a letter on March 6, 2017 which was “pretty much identical from the same person.”

SCRD CAO Janette Loveys reported that she had talked to provincial staff within the last week. “They’re waiting to hear from the [new] Minister [of the Environment],” said Loveys.

Loveys suggested that the board make a direct political approach from elected officials to elected officials, rather than going through staff again.

Earlier in the meeting Lebbell introduced three motions. The first, to review the drought management plan annually, was deferred since the plan is coming to the board for review in 2018.

The next two motions—to consider starting Stage 2 watering restrictions on a set date each year, and to consider banning all lawn watering at Stages 2 and 3—passed by a vote of 4 to 3, with several directors in strong disagreement.

Halfmoon Bay (Area B) Director Garry Nohr described an early lawn watering ban as “draconian”.

“What you’re doing is forcing people to cheat, you’re forcing people to turn in their neighbour, you’re forcing people to go away from the way of life that they thought they were buying into.”

Sechelt Director Bruce Milne concurred, calling it “heavy handed” and unenforceable.

Donna McMahon

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