Letters to the Editor

Water rates too high in West Kelowna

To the editor:

Let’s discuss water and the water rate structure.

We all know that water is a very precious commodity. We, the humans, animals and plants, require a certain amount of water on a steady basis in order to survive.

The residents of Lakeview Heights were provided with water by the Lakeview Irrigation District. This was a cooperative where we were all part owners of this entity that was well managed, well run and financially sound for more than 60 years of its existence.

Upon the formation of the new municipality District of West Kelowna, the administration, with the blessing of our bureaucrats in Victoria, arbitrarily took over the water district without us, the co-owners of LID, having any opportunity to express our opinion on the matter.

Over the years our LID had continuously upgraded and enlarged the water storage capacity and maintained the pipeline system. Furthermore, our irrigation district had more than $1 million in the bank, as a contingency fund, should the need for a certain upgrade or repair to the system arise.

The hostile takeover of out LID was orchestrated by the council of the District of West Kelowna and its bureaucratic establishment in order to create a cash cow.

After the creation of the new municipality we were instantly introduced to a metering system with an escalated price structure per cubic metre.

I live on Boucherie Road on a 1.1-acre parcel of land. This land has been used to grow fruits and vegetables for more than 60 years.

At this time I am using one third less water per acre of land than the amount which was recommended by LID, in the 1950s, to grow fruit.

I was born and raised on a farm 67 years ago and have continued to operate a hobby farm to this day.

However, my water charge has skyrocketed by more than 250 per cent from $295.14 per year to $1,037.07 annually.

Yes, there are a number of steps that can be taken in order to reduce the water requirement in the area, many of which I have instituted over the years.

Already, 35 years ago, I have planted deep-rooting trees in the front yard so that they are less susceptible to the drought conditions in the summers.

My grapes are being watered by drip irrigation that is being turned on for three watering cycles per year only.

The grassy area receives minimum watering to keep it in a green/brown condition.

However, my fruit trees and vegetable garden do require a regular amount of water to size and ripen the crop.

At the time of landscaping of another parcel on Industrial Road, I sought the advice local horticultural experts to learn which shrubs will survive our summers with less watering.

Now I water that landscaped area by one or two watering cycles per year only.

What is needed in this case is a tagging system of plants, at the nurseries, that will inform the consumers which plants are native to the area and what minimum amount of water will keep them alive once they are established.

Perhaps this is a project that the Okanagan Water Basin Board could undertake.

We have all moved here, because of our local climate, the proximity to lakes and mountains and the green appearance that has been created by the farmers in the area. All these factors are basic components for our tourism industry that is nicely creating local jobs.

Another major positive factor for the area is the clean air, rich with oxygen that can only be created by green plants.

Being that all humans, regardless of they are farmers or bureaucrats, breath the fresh air, the people living on small parcels or in apartments should also pay their fair share of the water costs for enjoying the local living conditions, much the same as we all pay the sunshine tax for living in the Okanagan.

Remember that plants and trees do not flourish because of water alone.

There is a lot of work required to grow and maintain healthy trees such as planting, pruning, thinning, spraying, picking and shipping to complete the cycle.

I am very concerned that we all pay for water fairly, including horse farmers and breeders.

Being that today nobody consumes horse meat as a food staple and we no longer use horses for transporting our freight and providing transportation, I therefore consider horses only as pets or a status symbol.

Why then should the other local citizens be subsidizing horse farmers for their lifestyle and supplying them with water at a farmer’s rate?

I sincerely hope that yet another water study, which is being done at this moment by our municipality, is being done by somebody who has lived on and worked the land as their profession.

May this be a warning to all citizens of the Westside that we are witnessing the creation of yet another bureaucratic monster, a municipality that provides well-paying jobs to many bureaucrats—at taxpayers’ expense.

Karl Loncaric,

West Kelowna

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