Mediation starts aimed at settling Kelowna water plan review dispute

While the city wants the issue of governance include in the plan, independent water districts object saying it's a technical document.

Mediation aimed at trying to bridge the impasse over a review of a plan that could dictate the future of water in the City of Kelowna has started.

Provincially appointed mediators, former Liberal MLA and cabinet minister George Abbott and former B.C. civil servant and deputy finance minister Chris Trumpy, have met with representatives of the city, Rutland Water Works, the Glenmore-Ellison Irrigation District and the South-East Kelowna Irrigation District.

At the heart of the dispute between the city and the water districts is the inclusion of a section on governance in the Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan.

While the city considers the inclusion critical and  wants to see just one integrated water system for all of Kelowna, not the five separate waters systems that currently serve different sectors of the city, the water districts do not.

They feel the water supply plan is a technical document and governance has no place in it.

The dispute has held up the provincially ordered review of the plan, and that, in turn, has dried up millions of dollars of potential funding that could have been applied for by the city for the water districts to fund projects contained in the plan.

Last month, Mayor Colin Basran went public with the city’s desire to see one, city controlled, integrated water system for all of Kelowna.

That drew the expected opposition from the water districts, which for years have been independent bodies with their own taxation powers.

 

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