A request by the local Columbia-Shuswap Regional District area director to have a dozen residences located near Revelstoke Mountain Resort hooked up to the City of Revelstoke’s water supply will have to wait until city staff study the proposal. This study could take weeks, even months. Even if the idea moves forward, it could take years before any pipe is laid.
CSRD Area B director Loni Parker appeared at city council’s Oct. 11 meeting where she argued that a clause in the resort’s Master Development Agreement with the city, regional district and province states that the resort would be responsible for fixing and paying for any problems they create for local water users.
She said two incidents this year that led to contamination of local water supplies were ample proof that Revelstoke Mountain Resort should now take steps to provide that alternate source of water.
Her solution was to extend the city’s water supply to these residences and to get the resort to pay for it. “It would be at no cost to the municipality,” Parker said.
She argued the residents had put up with construction, noise, dust, increased taxes and now water quality issues. “They have been very tolerant, but when it comes down to having potable water, I think it’s a health issue, and I think there’s a moral issue there on making sure these folks’ water is protected or replaced,” Parker said. “And in this case, protection hasn’t been there and replacement is the best alternative.” Bringing in city water to local residences could also help free up the resort to use water on the mountain for industrial resort uses.
She added a city water system would help the resort by enabling snow-making or other uses of the water. “To me, it’s a win-win-win, if you will,” she said.
Parker pushed for an exception to an existing City of Revelstoke policy that prohibits extending water supplies outside of city limits. She said by gaining an exception from council she could move forward with the initiative.
Following her presentation, mayor David Raven raised a number of issues, suggesting a decision wouldn’t come soon and that putting in a new water system would take “years” to develop. He viewed the issue as much more than just a policy question.
Raven said there were about a dozen water licenses in the area, and those owners would need to be consulted.
He questioned who would be the purveyor of the new extension, noting health liability issues would make the city extremely cautious about the final operating structure.
More than once he suggested that instead of extending the water outside of city limits, an alternative would be to extend city boundaries and then provide the service. “Are they all opposed to coming into the city?” he asked of area residents’ wishes.
Raven said it was his understanding the extension would require much more work than just extending the trunk line by an estimated 750 metres. He believed that the entire existing water system would have to be replaced, including pipes leading to all residences. This was due to potential technical, liability and heath issues.
He also wondered if all of the owners in question were in favour of the changes, and wondered how much they would have to ante-up for the improvements.
Director Parker said the regional district would not administer the system. “We’re not putting in a water supply,” Parker said. “We’re here to ask a policy question,” she said.
Council agreed they couldn’t authorize an exemption to the policy without further study, including all the issues voiced by the mayor.
In the end, they voted to request staff to study legal, technical, policy and jurisdictional issues related to the request and report back to council with a timeline. Council discussed putting a deadline on the staff report but backed away in the end, noting the complexity of the study required.
“There can be no promises here at this time,” mayor Raven said.
A Revelstoke Mountain Resort representative was at the meeting, but didn’t speak. Several area residents did attend.
Note: A preview version of this story indicate no representatives from RMR were present.