Opinion

Edgson: Sustainable solutions needed for water system issues

Jim Edgson

Contributor

This report is the result of a very long look at where Central Okanagan West is headed since I was elected for a third term as area director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan board last year.

This time of reflection was necessary because several projects worked on over the last five years have been or are in the process of being completed.

Something which became obvious to me when moving to the Regional District of the Central Okanagan in 1998 to land I had originally purchased in the early 1970s was that there were many things which appeared incomplete or inadequate.

In addressing these issues, one word kept popping up in the conversation—sustainability.

One of the biggest examples leading to a “sustainable solution” is the plan being put in place for the water systems in the North Westside of my electoral area.

These systems, installed by developers and subsequently turned over to the RDCO, raised concerns that the regional district has worked diligently to address.

As time went on, it became very obvious that the cost to fix this issue would be significant.

The work that needed to be done had to be done in a way to make sure the result was “sustainable”—there would be an action plan which would ensure the systems would be brought up to all drinking water and fire protection standards for the foreseeable future. This plan is now moving forward.

At the same time this was going on, a new water system in the Upper Fintry/Shalal Road/Valley of the Sun was advocated for, studied, voted on, constructed and implemented.

This system was done in a very sustainable fashion to ensure area residents with good drinking water and fire flows well into the future.

So what is the meaning of “sustainable?” And how do we use this term and action point going forward in light of future projects?

Sustainability is planning into the future, acting in a responsible fashion, while ensuring that the investment you make today will pay off in many ways now and in the future.

Looking at an immediate solution or cost has been shown many times not to pay off in the long-term, and indeed can result in problems and poor service.

Trepanier area residents outside of Peachland have long pointed out the need for a water system and fire protection.

It became obvious to me, RDCO staff and the regional board that the first thing which needed to be done was to get an Official Community Plan so other projects had the potential to move forward. This was done.

Once the gavel was down on the OCP, the next step was going forward to examine getting a sustainable water system.

This week, the board asked staff to provide information about possible costs and informally survey residents on their interest and support for establishing a water system to service properties in the Trepanier and Paradise Road areas.

A report will be prepared for the board with the results of this initial gauge of residents support for a proposed water system before the board considers whether to approve spending $20,000 for a detailed engineering feasibility study for the water system. At this time, considerations of other services will need to wait until this survey is completed and presented to the board for consideration.

Sustainability is about making sure the job is done right the first time so that complications and the resulting expenses in the future are mitigated. Short-term solutions do not do this. Meantime, I would first suggest that we all look again at our Fire Smart booklets and implement the suggestions. Protect your homes and property. After that, I would suggest that all concerned encourage the regional district as it move s forward with the water system survey.

For more information, see the  regional district website regionaldistrict.com.

Jim Edgson is the Central Okanagan West electoral area director for the Regional District of the Central Okanagan.

jim.edgson@cord.bc.ca

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