Revelstoke Mountain Resort is being investigated by the British Columbia Conservation Office Service after construction work at the resort resulted in the contamination of a stream, leaving a dozen residences without clean water for more than a month.
The investigation is being conducted under the province’s Water Act after work done by a contractor at the resort resulted in sediment entering a stream and contaminating the Thomas Brook Reservoir, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations told the Times Review in an e-mail.
“We understand from RMR that on August 25, 2011, one of their contractors was doing some run clearing and levelling within the Controlled Recreation Area when a miscommunication resulted in works occurring in Thomas Brook without the proper authorizations being in place,” wrote Cheekwan Ho. “Sediment entered the stream resulting in sedimentation in the Thomas Brook reservoir.”
The action meant residents were without clean water until water was restored on Sept. 28, the ministry said. In the meantime, the resort offered the affected residents the use of Nelsen Lodge for drinking water and bathing facilities.
The affected residents live in an area just outside city boundaries near the resort along Camozzie, McInnes and Leidloff Roads.
Loni Parker, the CSRD area director for rural Revelstoke, said this was the second time the reservoir was contaminated this year and called the situation “unacceptable” and “untenable.”
“It’s not a very good situation and they should have done any work within the stream to begin with,” she told the Times Review.
She said she has spoken to Rod Kessler, the resort’s vice-president and chief operation officer, about the issue and that he takes it “very, very seriously.”
“For some reason these things keep happening so obviously there’s a communication problem within the resort management structure that has enabled these kind of situations to arise,” she said. “I’m hoping that with the investigation that’s ongoing the resort owners will step up to the plate and start dealing with the real issues and start being good neighbours.”
Meanwhile, the ministry’s Resort Development Branch is advising the resort to work with residents and government to find a long-term solution; and it is advising residents to form an association to help develop solutions.
Kessler said the resort was unable to comment on the matter due to the ongoing investigation. “Given the investigation, at this point, until we better understand what it’s about, we’re better not to comment.”
Parker said she would be approaching city council on Oct. 11 to look into connecting the residents to the city water supply to ensure there are no repeats of the event.
The issue of the Thomas Brook water system is brought up in the Master Development Agreement signed by the resort and the province. Schedule I of the agreement states that if resort development adversely affects the domestic water supply of regional residents, “then the Developer shall, at the developer’s cost, cure the difficulty to that extent by removing the cause of by providing the affected residents with an alternative water supply.”
The resort also got into trouble recently in relation to some logging activity undertaken in resort lands along Camozzi Road.
“Ministry of Environment were working very closely with a couple of people from RMR and came to the determination that the work was inside riparian areas so we just followed that up with a stop work order,” said John Guenther, the city’s director of planning.
Kessler said the resort was undertaking exploratory work and when it received the order it complied.
“We’ve complied with the city’s request to stop work until future plans and use are better defined.”