Gibsons is perhaps most famous for being the home to the long running CBC program “The Beachcombers” but less well known is the fact that Gibsons has some of the best drinking water in the world.
This isn’t just my opinion – it’s an actual fact. In 2005, the Town of Gibsons was awarded the gold medal in the coveted Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting. It’s the largest water tasting competition in the world.
More than a decade later, a large portion of the homes in Gibsons still have this pure, delicious, aquifer water delivered directly to their kitchen taps. In a world where we’re inundated with warnings about the additives and chemicals we ingest, it’s refreshing to know that Gibsonites receive the best version of the most important element on the planet.
Any talk of water in Gibsons, especially in the lead up to local elections, invariably provokes discussion on the George Hotel and the perceived potential risk to the aquifer.
But what has the Mayor and town council done to protect the water supply in Gibsons?
In 2012, the Town completed the installation of a universal water metering system at a cost of $1.5 million.
This initiative delivered many important benefits, helping them to identify and repair hidden leaks and, perhaps most importantly, to raise our collective awareness of water use.
At the same time, the Town’s finance department implemented a new “user-pay” system, along with appropriate water rates, in order to cover the operation, maintenance and future replacement costs of Gibsons’ water infrastructure.
Together, these initiatives have led to a dramatic decline in the community’s water use.
In fact, between 2008 and 2016, the Town’s per capita water usage dropped by more than half, from approximately 800 litres per day to approximately 350 litres per day.
Another large investment the Town’s tax-payers have made in recent years is the commissioning of a grant-assisted four-year mapping study of the Gibsons Aquifer.
Completed in 2013, at a total cost of $500,000, this comprehensive, science-based water-strategy document has become a key resource for any person contemplating projects that might impact the aquifer, from the Town’s planners to the province’s environmental officers.
The Gibsons Official Community Plan envisions us adding approximately 5,500 residents to the Town over the next 20 years, with about 3,000 of those serviced by the aquifer.
As the population grows, the study prescribes gathering detailed information about the long-term effects of variables such as user demand, climate change, and sea level rise on the aquifer’s total capacity.
Accordingly, the Town implemented an annual groundwater monitoring program in 2009, so that it is consistently able to make sound, fact-based decisions about any future buildout.
Mayor Rowe once wrote, “We’re proud of our water system and aquifer and feel highly motivated to protect it. Accordingly, we’ve designed our policies and infrastructure with a strong conservation goal in mind.”
Let’s hope the new Mayor and Council takes its stewardship of this pristine, award winning and irreplaceable natural asset just as seriously in the future.
Tony Browton’s blog can be found at http://www.truebluerealty.ca/blog