Receipt of a letter from the District of Sechelt opened up a heated discussion at the SCRD’s infrastructure services committee meeting on Jan. 18.
The letter, voted on by Sechelt Councillors on Dec. 6, requests “all reasonable and expeditious measures be taken to secure an expanded water supply on behalf of the District of Sechelt taxpayers and citizens.”
Area F Director Ian Winn led the discussion, noting that “I thought that’s what we were doing… so I’m confused.”
Area D Director Mark Lebbell made even more pointed remarks. “At best, we’re getting mixed messages from the District of Sechelt and at worst we’re getting a conscious undermining of a project that’s been pointed at for 20 years repeatedly by staff and consultants and opposed by a small handful of citizens who have managed to get the ear of different elected officials over the years,” said Lebbell.
Referring to Sechelt making “right turns out of nowhere” after having supported the regional water strategy at the SCRD board, Lebbell stated that he was “seeking clarification from Sechelt directors at this table.”
Sechelt Councillor Alice Lutes, standing in for Mayor Bruce Milne, responded.
“We are not as a district telling the regional district how to manage the water supply, we’re saying we need a reasonable and secure water supply,” said Lutes, explaining that the SCRD’s actions to date are viewed by most community members as “drought management,” not increased supply.
“We have right now on the books over a thousand units to be built in the District of Sechelt. There’s more coming every day,” said Lutes. “We’re not saying don’t do the drawdown to deal with the drought, we’re saying we need some long term supply management.”
Area A Director and former SCRD Chair Garry Nohr said that he felt “thoroughly insulted” that Sechelt was not recognizing the long-time efforts of SCRD staff and directors.
“Having joined the regional district with the idea of doing something about water, and I’m now going into my 13th year, you can understand some of my frustration that it hasn’t been completed yet,” said Nohr. “I think we need you to support us as we go along with what we’re doing here to make it work.”
Lebbell took issue with comments about drought management, noting: “We’ve reached the point in history… that there will always be water restrictions of some sort on the Sunshine Coast. And if anybody thinks that that’s not the case, then I think they’re deluding themselves.”
“Anybody moving to the Coast or anybody living on the Coast needs to come to grips with that reality, particularly in the face of climate change.”
Area F Director Lorne Lewis was again the sole voice in opposition to the Chapman Creek expansion project. “I’ve referred to it as an environmental misadventure from the beginning. That is not a position that I have taken on the instruction of environmentalists. I take that position as an environmentalist,” said Lewis.
Lebbell made a motion to compose a letter of response to the District Sechelt, arguing that there should be a clear public record. The committee voted in support of his motion. Donna McMahon