April 22, 2016 - 12:05 PM
COMMUNITIES MINISTER PETER FASSBENDER SAYS BOTH SIDES HAVE A PROPOSAL IN FRONT OF THEM
KELOWNA - Communities minister Peter Fassbender expects an agreement to proceed on a value planning exercise between the City of Kelowna and irrigation districts “sooner than later.”
Fassbender said he met yesterday with Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and reps from the four irrigation districts and both sides have seen the recommendations from mediators George Abbot and Chris Trumpy.
“We’ve put a document in front of them in terms of a path forward and I’m optimistic everyone will accept what’s recommended,” Fassbender said, speaking outside the Southern Interior Local Government Association convention at the Delta Grand hotel in Kelowna April 22..
The minister said the role of the province is to facilitate, not dictate, an agreement.
“I’m not going to presuppose what that eventually leads to and I’m not going to say the province wants it this way or that. We think the way forward will be pretty clear."
Fassbender said the province is well aware of the deadlines for federal infrastructure funding, which the federal Liberal government says will be aimed primarily at environmental and water infrastructure projects.
“We understand time is of the essence,” he added.
Domestic water delivery within Kelowna is handled by the city water utilty and the four irrigation districts.
Each irrigation district has its own adminstration and infrastructure and is a form of local government with a board of trustees elected by ratepayers.
The irrigation districts in the Okanagan began in the early 20th century as a way to ensure a reliable water supply for orchards. They have since largely evolved into domestic water suppliers, serving both residential and agricultural customers.
Last year, Kelowna council, lead by Mayor Colin Basran, declared clean drinking water a priority and demanded the Kelowna Joint Water Committee accelerate its integrated water supply plan.
It calls for integration of the five systems along with an eventual change in governance over a 15-year period.
Some $360 million worth of water infrastructure projects are on the books over that period, but Basran says the city believes integration could be achieved in about half the time for half the price.
Find more stores on Kelowna irrigation districts here.
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