February 19, 2016 - 2:37 PM
MAYOR SAYS FOR THE FIRST TIME AMALGAMATION IS THE END GOAL
KELOWNA - Premier Christy Clark was adamant yesterday local irrigation districts would not be forced to amalgamate with Kelowna but Mayor Colin Basran says he still expects amalgamation as the eventual outcome of current mediation efforts.
Clark made the announcement, Feb. 18, at Kelowna Chamber of Commerce luncheon, with the mayor sitting in the audience, but Basran brushed it off.
“I know what she said but I also know the city manager and I met with her afterward and I think we’ve made a compelling case to consider amalgamation of the irrigation districts,” Basran says.
The mayor says the province has already done everything but force amalgamation by giving Kelowna veto power over water infrastructure grants projects applications by the irrigation districts.
He also points to provincial policy that requires the government to work toward the integration of the water systems and to intervene in case of management or infrastructure problems, non-compliance with regulations or intractable relations with local municipalities.
“The province wants amalgamation to be voluntary, but there are criteria to support a proactive approach to amalgamation,” the mayor says.
Basran confirmed the communities ministry has appointed two mediators to work with the city and the four irrigation districts on ways to advance the timetable of the Kelowna integrated water supply plan.
The plan is key to ending the disparities in domestic water quality between the irrigation districts and calls for full integration of the water systems by 2025 with the construction of some $380 million worth of infrastructure.
Basran has said the city believes integration could be achieved in about half the time for about half the cost.
The city works with the irrigation districts through the Kelowna joint water committee, representing Black Mountain, South East Kelowna and Glenmore Ellison irrigation districts and the Rutland Water Works.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016