Following a series of clashes between District of Sechelt representatives and SCRD directors over the regional water supply, SCRD directors have scheduled a special committee meeting on March 1 to discuss water in depth.
Proceedings at the Feb. 8 planning and community development committee, and the SCRD board meeting, were both sidetracked by wrangling over water.
In 2015, the SCRD board voted to proceed with the “Chapman Lake Water Supply Expansion Project”, which involves digging a deeper channel so that the lake can be drawn down an additional five metres during droughts. The lake is in Tetrahedron Provincial Park and tbe project has not proceeded because the lake BC Parks did not issue a permit.
Speaking to the Chapman Lake project at the Feb. 8 board meeting, Sechelt Mayor Bruce Milne said: “In 2015 we passed a resolution saying we were going to move with an option we would only use in two circumstances: when there was a drought and before the long-term source projects were identified.”
“Almost immediately my district council started asking me questions because it wasn’t done in 2016,” said Milne. “If it’s 2018… and we’re going to have an engineered lake in process and maybe built by 2021, why would we spend $5 million for three years?”
Area A Director Frank Mauro stated that the provincial park modification must go forward regardless. “We cannot possibly go through a process with the provincial government where we have to ask permission to do work on the source of our water supply. Some process to allow the SCRD to carry on its business has to be part of the solution.”
Area E Director Lorne Lewis, who has opposed the Chapman Lake project from the start, stated his position that alternate sources are needed because the lake is vulnerable to climate change. “We’re going to get less and less snow in the winter, we’re going to get more and more rain in the winter and we’re going to get drier summers,” said Lewis, characterizing the project as “treating the lake as if it was just a galvanized bucket. The lake is a living thing.”
The SCRD supplies water to over 25,000 Sunshine Coast residents from Secret Cove to Gibsons. More than 90 per cent of that water is drawn from Chapman Lake.