Highlights from the Oct. 22 District of Hope council meeting.
Wilfried Vicktor mentioned the issue of 753 Water System in his farewell Mayor’s statement and in response to a question from the public.
There is an emergency hook up from the district’s water supply, which Vicktor said would remain in place indefinitely without any plans to cut anyone off the system.
He placed the blame squarely on the province and the water comptroller for not overseeing the management of the private water system adequately, adding the need going forward is to put pressure on these parties.
“The province and the regulatory agents, the comptrollers office, did fumble the ball in how they oversaw the system because their role is supposed to be to appropriately supervise private water systems so that all the regulatory guidelines are followed. They did not do that,” he said.
Vicktor added the district has better leverage now, as the water system is under the oversight of the province, whereas if the district took it over it would be their costly problem. Vicktor referenced a cost of $850,000, which he said would be hard to cover as a one per cent tax increase only generates roughly $74,000 to the district.
At a May 2017 presentation to council, a consultant said the total cost to bring the water system to an ‘acceptable level’ would be $866,000. The district would also need to budget for a $5.48-million renewal cost, as the resevoir had 15 years of useful life left and water mains had 40 years. These numbers are from 2017.
Coun. Bob Erickson said he has had several people contact him regarding the issue during the municipal election campaign.
“There’s still some question as to when we can move because the ownership is in probate. He died intestate,” said chief administrative officer John Fortoloczky in response, meaning the owner of the private water system died without a will (intestate) which is now being worked out through the judicial system.
“However we do plan to go forward in 2019 to recommend a way ahead for you as council, to decide,” he said.
“That will likely entail establishing a special service area and applying for grants to make it feasible. That doesn’t guarantee, for example, that there will be grants or any help from the province, in which case a real tough decision has to be taken by council in regards to how much of the cost will we, the existing taxpayers, take on to the system.”
Fortoloczky said more information will follow, as he has been in discussions with the water comptroller and other regions who are dealing with acquiring private water systems. The district is also finishing a master water plan which will inform the district what would be required to bring the 753 system up to compliance.
“As the new council comes in, I will confirm with the water comptroller the exact legal situation, so that we can enter discussions about acquisition, possibly.”
Vicktor also referenced the bills some households on the 753 Water System have not paid, adding when the district takes over the water system they would have a large bill to pay and there would be a notice on their title if they don’t pay it.
Goodbyes and well wishes
As a new mayor- and councillors-elect prepare to be sworn in, outgoing Mayor Wilfried Vicktor and councillors Donna Kropp and Gerry Dyble reflected on their last term.
Vicktor, who served on council for two years and as Mayor for 11 between 1995 and 2018, said the district had walked a good balance and made good use of the integrated official community plan (IOCP) when deciding on whether and how to rezone properties for development. He said also council laid ‘healthy groundwork’ on the issue of marijuana, including a recent survey from the public, and urged the next leaders of the district to tread with caution as there are health consequences to consider.
He also praised the work done by council and staff on first putting together an inventory of which assets need work and when. Vicktor also mentioned the need to push forward the pedestrian route to Silver Creek, which the council has drawn up plans for, as well as a six-million-dollar Othello Road upgrade.
Councillor Donna Kropp, who has had a seat on council for 19 years between 1994 and 2018, said it has been ‘quite a rollercoaster ride’ with many difficult decisions made and balancing the needs of community members and friends with her conviction to vote where her heart lay.
“We have a lot of seniors that have small incomes. Try and keep the costs down…because not everybody can afford to pay taxes, they’re struggling, trying to decide whether to eat or pay taxes,” Kropp urged, as council goes into budget season in February.
Dyble echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that the wants of the community, whether they be snow removal or policing, come from taxpayer dollars and council has to make difficult decisions about where to spend those dollars.
“You hope that the time you spend on council isn’t short-sighted in the three or the four years you’re sitting here on council but it’s visionary and it’s moving forward. What’s the next 10 years? What’s the next 20 years?” Dyble said, who is ending seven years on council, having decided not to run in the 2018 election. She also joked she knew ‘more about landfill transfer station, pollution control centre than I actually care to know about’.
An obnoxious election
“This is the most obnoxious election I’ve ever been involved in. It was not a feather in the cap of Hope,” Vicktor said about his ninth election in 25 years. He urged the incoming team to let bygones be bygones and if forgiveness is not an option, at least ‘tuck those feelings away for four years’. Vicktor did not specify what the issues were during the election.
During the meeting Coun. Dusty Smith said he wanted to apologize to a few councillors ‘for some stuff that was out and about there’, but did not go into detail about his apology.
“No disrespect to anybody, I will go visit those people in the next couple of weeks. Talk to them,” he said.
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