Big Eddy supports water takeover by City of Revelstoke

70 per cent of Big Eddy property owners vote in favour of water system takeover by City of Revelstoke.

A map showing the Big Eddy properties and water network.

The Big Eddy voted in favour of a takeover of their water system by the City of Revelstoke, paving the way for $5.7 million in upgrades to improve the neighbourhood’s water quality and quantity.

65 per cent of property owners, representing 71 per cent of land value signed petitions in favour of the takeover.

“Council is please that the Big Eddy landowners successfully petitioned the City of Revelstoke and that more than $3.7 million in infrastructure grants will be accessed to make the necessary system improvements,” said Mayor Mark McKee in a news release. “We would like to thank Big Eddy residents who work with city staff to facilitate a positive outcome for the petition process. Their efforts are greatly appreciated.”

The next steps in the process belong to council, who have to authorize a bylaw to borrow the Big Eddy’s share of the project — about $1.9 million. Council also needs to vote to establish a local area of service bylaw for the Big Eddy. Both bylaws are expected to be passed.

Big Eddy property owners will pay back their share of the costs through their water bills over the next 20 years.

The city will also begin detailed design work on the project, with the hopes of beginning construction this fall.

“The water upgrade will provide the Big Eddy residents with a long-term sustainable system, meeting provincial standard,” stated Mike Thomas, the city’s director of engineering.

The takeover has been almost two years in the making, when deficiencies with the Big Eddy Water Works first discovered when the Revelstoke School District applied to sub-divide the old Big Eddy Elementary site. A subsequent letter from Interior Health said the system did not meet Canadian drinking water standards.

Further, it was determined there wasn’t enough water flow to meet fire protection standards for commercial and industrial properties.

In August 2014, the previous city council voted to begin discussions with the Big Eddy Water Board on a possible takeover. It became a major issue in that fall’s election and the city hired the engineering firm MMM Group to study the water system.

In June, MMM returned to council with a report saying the system needed $5.7 million in upgrades to meet water quality and quantity standards. The city successfully applied to get two-thirds funding from the provincial and federal governments for the project. The funding was contingent on the city taking over the water system.

Shortly before Christmas, the city hosted regarding the takeover. They launched the petition process and gave property owners until Feb. 5 to decide.

People didn’t rush to sign the sign petition. The Big Eddy Water Board implored people to say yes, saying the Big Eddy had to perform the upgrades, and that if they turned down the takeover, the Big Eddy would be on the hook for 100 per cent of the costs and wouldn’t get any grant funding. Their water costs would rise to more than $1,500 a month as a result.

However, some residents questioned the need and/or the scope of the project and hesitated to bring in their petitions to city hall.

A concerted public relations effort by the city and the water board to explain the necessity of the upgrades resulted in questions being answered. The petition crossed the 50 per cent threshold at some point this week.

More to folllow…

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