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9th April 2016

by Nicholas Pescod - Nanaimo News Bulletin- posted Apr 5, 2016 at 6:00 PM

After a lengthy debate, Lantzville councillors scrapped the proposal for a water task force and opted to go with a consultant instead.

During a committee of the whole meeting on Monday night, councillors approved a motion that will see district staff prepare a report for a terms of reference for a water master plan and for a consultant. The consultant would potentially be hired by the district to conduct the work that would have been done by the Water Task Force.

Coun. Mark Swain raised the idea of hiring a market research firm or consultant to do the work versus forming a committee, suggesting that enough time has already been spent.

"It is clear to me, based on our last meeting that all neighborhoods in Lantzville do want water. I think for us to finally put this to rest, it's a pretty simple solution," Swain said. "Hire a market research firm to do this now. There is no point in waiting and putting off to committees and creating extra things. I think we just go and put out there to a market search firm and they can go and poll our neighbourhoods that do need water and get that scientific information back to us to make our decision. I think putting this off to committee, again, they are just going to spend months and months talking about how they are going to go poll neighborhoods and so forth."

The Water Task Force, had it been created, would have worked alongside district staff and consultants to review and recommend options to councillors to provide municipal water to un-serviced areas within Lantzville. The task force would have also provided input on the Water Master Plan process and a number of short and long-term issues relating to water within the district. It would have consisted of two council members and three members of the public.

Prior to Swain's suggestion to hire a consultant, Lantzville councillors spent a large portion of the night debating heavily about the terms of reference for the Water Task Force. They also focused on whether a water master plan should be developed before forming any kind of task force.

Coun. Bob Colclough, who was against the original motion, said district staff and council need to agree on the water master plan itself.

"Prior to adopting the terms of reference or anything else, particularly, prior to going out and asking residents if they are interested in sitting on advisory committee, we first need to establish what a water management master plan is, what the goals and objectives of that plan are, what is the work plan schedule budget and then the terms of reference and membership makeup," Colclough said.

Coun. John Coulson, who supported the original motion, said he believed that the Water Task Force would be able to help with the development of the water master plan.

"One of the very first things this group can do is assist with the development of the water master plan," Coulson said. "I think the big thing is they can identify the needs, surveying the community, public consultation, whatever it is we are doing."

Meanwhile, Coun. Will Geselbracht, who was also against the original motion, noted that so much time has gone by and that the there are members of the community who are in "crisis" with respect to water.

"We have to address the concerns of the citizens that don't have water and that is going to be part of the master water plan ... People are suffering and in crisis and we as the elected representatives in this community have got to respond," Geselbracht said.