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OPINION: City of Kelowna is not ‘tearing up’ integrated water supply agreement

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April 14, 2016 - 11:53 AM


Your April 12, 2016 story (Kelowna irrigation districts keep calm and carry on) on the Glenmore Ellison Irrigation District and the ongoing facilitation process included a statement that should be clarified.

The article stated: “Kelowna signed the integrated water supply agreement with the irrigation districts in 2012 but now the city wants to tear up the agreement and accelerate their integration and take control of governance.”

In fact, the City of Kelowna was committed to following through on the provincial government’s requirement for a Value Planning exercise of the 2012 plan and has been the leader in pushing for this to happen. Unfortunately, four years after the plan, the five separate and independent water districts cannot even agree on the terms of reference for the Value Planning exercise that is required before any senior government funding can be received.

To further demonstrate there was no intention to “tear up the agreement”, the City committed to this review process, even though it had already commissioned a review of the plan. In 2014, Associated Engineering Ltd. reviewed the 2012 plan and determined it was not the best lowest cost solution to meet provincial requirements.

Nonetheless, the City has attempted to show leadership on this issue by participating in efforts to resolve our differences concerning the 2012 plan.

Kelowna is in the unique position of having five water districts operating within its city boundary, along with 27 small private water systems supplying small groups of residents. While the City has a thorough understanding of the complexities of creating an integrated system, it is clear that one citywide system would be more efficient than 32 separate systems.

In the end, it is provincial policy that irrigation districts are to eventually fall under the control of local government. The City of Kelowna is attempting to ensure capital projects proposed by the irrigation districts make sense financially and make sense as a citywide system it will one day inherit.

Ron Westlake
Special Projects Manager
City of Kelowna

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