Pipes seen near Lantzville Road. (NEWS BULLETIN file)

Lantzville staff plan to meet with Nanaimo staff over water agreement

City says it has plenty of water to share with neighbouring municipality

The District of Lantzville is anticipating further discussions to clarify certain aspects of a signed water agreement with the City of Nanaimo.

During a Lantzville council meeting last week, Fred Spears, the district’s director of public works, told councillors that discussions on the topic have been going on with staff from both municipalities.

“Currently, there is conversations with the City of Nanaimo,” he said. “We have a meeting set up in the near future to talk about some of the issues with the agreement.”

Spears made the comments to councillors while they were discussing recommendations made in the water master plan calling for the district to trigger the water agreement and then ask for amendments.

The Lantzville-Nanaimo water agreement was signed back in 2014 and allows for water connections to be made to a maximum of 225 homes in upper Lantzville, plus 50 new development connections each year. The deal has the potential to provide 211 Lantzville homes currently on private wells with municipal water.

Although a water pipeline has been constructed from Nanaimo to Lantzville, the agreement has not yet been triggered by Lantzville councillors, who have been asking Nanaimo to amend portions of the water agreement for more than a year. Among the amendments requested by Lantzville councillors includes allowing existing developments to be to considered in the 50 new connections per year, instead of just new developments.

Concerns have also been raised lately about other aspects of the water agreement such as the definition of upper and lower Lantzville. A 2016 legal opinion, released in October, concluded that the water agreement’s definition of upper and lower Lantzville is unclear and recommends that the district clarify the definition before triggering the agreement.

Speaking to the News Bulletin afterward, Spears confirmed that attempts to hold discussions with Nanaimo city staff about the water agreement have been made but added that no meetings have actually taken place. He said a meeting would discuss certain aspects of the agreement such as reconfirming the definition of upper and lower Lantzvillle.

“We were just going to get together and go over some things that are in the agreement to get clarification on and whatnot,” he said.

Bill Sims, the city’s manager of water services, told the News Bulletin in an e-mailed statement that there have been “informal” discussions between staff from both municipalities related to the water agreement.

“There have been informal technical discussions between staff to ensure common understanding of the application of the existing agreement,” he said.

Sims said the city recognizes the water agreement in its current state and any changes that Lantzville would like to see – pointing to Lantzville’s recently released water master plan that suggests amending portions of the agreement – would need to be approved by city councillors. He said council has not instructed staff to proceed with applying any of Lantzville’s proposed amendments.

Sims also said the city will be updating its water supply projects due to dramatic conservation efforts by residents and updated climate change models. He said Nanaimo residents conserved so much water that the city will not need to add to its water supply for at least a decade and that there is more than enough water to supply Lantzville.

“Nanaimo has enough water to satisfy the terms of the existing agreement without compromising its supply to Nanaimo residents,” he said. “Conservation has delayed the need for Nanaimo to augment its water supply by at least a decade.”

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