Summerland Council recently approved the extension of the municipal sewer system to the Hunters Hill area.
Hunters Hill is approximately 68 hectares (168 acres) at the south end of Rattle Snake Mountain which has a development plan for 68 lots.
About half the land will be dedicated to park.
In the past, there would have been opposition to the idea of installing a sewer line past hundreds of acres of good arable farm land.
People would have been concerned that such a move would inevitably lead to the land’s exclusion from the Agricultural Land Reserve — or at least make it more likely.
We now know that the citizens of Summerland, as well as the people in the rest of the province, are ardent supporters of the ALR.
Any proposal to remove productive land from the Agricultural Land Reserve would meet strong opposition today, and even stronger in the future, as the value of farm land becomes more and more evident.
Furthermore, the ability of an applicant to tie into an existing sewer system would likely be one of the last things the Agricultural Land Commission would consider when deciding on the merits of excluding land from the ALR.
The profitability of a development to the applicant is not the ALC’s concern, therefore the existence of a sewer line is of little or no relevance to them.
However, it will give some people an additional level of comfort to know that Summerland’s newest sewer line will be a “force main” which is designed to only have the capacity to handle the expected flow from the Hunters Hill development and the Bentley Road industrial area.
Points in favour of installing the sewer line include:
o While it was technically feasible to have local “communal style” septic fields in Hunters Hill, they are not without risks of failure or conflict concerning their maintenance. A sewage collection system is the preferred choice.
o Provision of sewer services to the Bentley Road Industrial Area. It is expected that making sewer available for this area will make it more attractive for business to move there, however the owners of those properties will have to go through the process of voting in favour of joining the sewer system.
o Our sewage treatment plant is currently running at just over 50 per cent capacity. We are advised there are difficulties running at too far below capacity and that any additional flow improves the operation of the plant.
o Additional capacity to the sewage treatment plant will help keep costs down for existing users since most of the facility’s operating costs are fixed.
The vote in favour of installing the sewer line was seven to zero and it is my belief that if there was any risk of the Hunters Hill sewer line leading to the development of agricultural land, our council would not have supported it. The force main line is the best solution for Summerland as it allows for an important housing development to proceed, while minimizing its impact on the environment and preserving our agricultural land.
Richard Barkwill is a Summerland councillor. The views expressed by the author are his alone and do not necessarily reflect council policy.