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The need for a water service explained

One of the two referendum questions on the ballot in the Cowichan Valley deals the establishment of a water service.

That service would add 3 dollars and 79 cents per 100,000 dollars of assessed property value to our property taxes and raise 750,000 dollars.

Tom Rutherford, executive director of the Cowichan Watershed Board said the local government makes decisions on land use and often there’s limited information to go on.

That, he said, can cost us all and, while water issues affect all of the Cowichan Valley, he cites an example.

“Down in the Cobble Hill area there are systems that have failed, where you put in a subdivision, the developer has to provide the water for that subdivision and then three years in it fails and the CVRD has to pick it up. That’s not a good situation for anybody, certainly if you bought a house and you don’t have any water but secondly for all the rest of us who have to support that.”

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Rutherford said, for those who believe water is a provincial jurisdiction issue, it is unrealistic to think we can attract provincial dollars without having some skin in the game ourselves.

He says a one-time injection into a water service isn’t good enough either because, with climate change, our water issues are going to be ongoing and, possibly, escalating.

“I think I am going to be fine, but I really believe that the water bus is kind of heading for the ditch and I’m not on that bus – my kids are on that bus and their kids are going to be on that bus and so I think it’s something we need to take seriously and we need to manage carefully on an ongoing basis.”

Rutherford says the Regional District of Nanaimo has had a water service in place for a number of years and it’s serving the community well.

The Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Service would allocate funds as follows:

$494,000 (66%) would be dedicated to the implementation of integrated water and watershed protection strategies, monitoring and data gathering, leveraging grants and partnership programs with other levels of governments, stewardship groups and others to meet objectives.

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$256,000 (34%) to build internal technical capacity to integrate water management into environmental planning, land use decisions, education and outreach. This is a key component of ensuring knowledge and emerging information is integrated into designing a positive future.

The actual referendum question is this:

Are you in favour of the Cowichan Valley Regional District adopting “CVRD Bylaw No. 4202 – Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Service Establishment Bylaw, 2018” to support regional programs related to drinking water and watershed protection?

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