Whether candidates know it or not, Water is the single most important subject for the sustainability of Peachland. As communities around the world experience the effects of a changing climate, water is front and center of the disastrous results. Too much water, floods, landslides, hurricanes; or not enough water as places deal with droughts, water shortages, dry lakes and rivers, increased wildfires. Peachland is not immune. But water is also a day to day issue locally – the cost of treating water to drink, the degradation of our watershed, the source of our water, and the need for water to support new developments, and existing residents.
We asked all council and mayoral candidates how they would deal with the water issues in Peachland.
Here are the questions we asked: SKIP TO THE CANDIDATES ANSWERS
1.Healthy Watersheds Initiative:
This year, the BC provincial government invested $27 million toward the health and security of BC’s watersheds. These funds put 750 British Columbians to work across 60+ watershed projects in every corner of BC.
In order to keep critical work moving forward, will you, as my municipal elected representative, commit to pushing the provincial government to add the required funding to the province’s Healthy Watersheds investment annually?*
How will you ensure a project or projects benefiting Peachland’s watershed receives provincial attention and funding?
2. Watershed Security Fund:
All levels of government must work with local communities and First Nations around decision-making in our watersheds. Will you work with local syilx communities, provincial and federal governments to establish a BC Watershed Security Fund ($375 million over 5 years) to fund local Peachland and regionally-led clean water initiatives and create good, sustainable, local jobs for Okanagan communities of all ages and backgrounds in watershed restoration, monitoring, technology, training and education?*
How would you make this happen?
3. User Pay on Municipal Roads:
The taxpayers of Peachland currently pay for all the maintenance and repair of Princeton Avenue. Heavy commercial trucks (Mining, Logging, Gravel) travel Princeton Avenue and degrade the condition of the road and raise safety, congestion, maintenance and noise concerns for taxpayers.
If elected will you support a user pay system for heavy trucks using municipal roads and take steps to see to it that such commercial and industrial users of Princeton Avenue pay their fair share of such maintenance and repair costs, including funding safe sidewalks and multi-use pathways?
Explain how you would implement this or why you would not
4.0 What happens when Peachland outgrows its Water Treatment Plant (WTP)?:
In the past, council has approved projects that were never finished or developed, many remaining on the books. Our new $28M+ water treatment plant can capture, filter and supply water for only 7100, without taking into account any climate change unknowns, droughts and water scarcity. Development Cost Charges that contributed to this current WTP were $408,000, or 1.1%. A new water treatment plant, when needed, is estimated to cost the town $45 million, according to district staff, and DCCs will not cover the maintenance, upgrades nor building of it.
If elected to Peachland council, do you support continuing to approve proposed developments when there will not be enough water to supply them? We are currently at 5789 (Census Canada 2021).
5.0 Watershed Services Fee:
Many water-dependent and rural BC communities are collecting annual monies to pay for services, fees, protections, acquisitions, stewardship, repairs and restoration of their watershed and drinking water sources. Comox, Kimberly, Osoyoos, and the Columbia Valley are a few examples.
If elected, would you approve directing Municipal staff and or the HWC to research this initiative for the 2027 elections and offer a proposed watershed services collection as a referendum question to residents?*
6.0 Funding for a new Water Master Plan:
Peachland does not have an up-to-date water master plan. The 2007 WMP did not include climate change. The January 2015 WMP amendment did not include all new developments. The WMP was challenged by numerous sources and found Peachland did not have sufficient water for the 27,000 population originally quoted, but a much lesser amount and only if major developments changes, permits and licenses in the Peachland Creek basin occurred. Shawn Grundy, Peachland Director of Operations, informed the current council that he intends to include a request for funding for a new WMP in the 2023 budget. Even if approved by 2023 council during budget deliberations in the winter of 2023, the project would not go out to tender until spring 2023.The study could take months/years. Results may not be available until 2024 or later.
If elected would you:*
7.0 Increase Legal Jurisdiction over Water Sources:
Given that all areas on the planet are experiencing climate change and that water scarcity is a large part of that, and that in the past Peachland’s watershed has had protected Watershed Preserve status, would you agree to the establishment of Peachland’s jurisdiction for expanding the protection of the watershed.**
8.0 Revisit the Peachland District’s “PAUSE on Forestry Activities” Letter:
On June 26, 2019, the current Mayor and council acted on a Healthy Watershed Committee recommendation and resolution and crafted a strongly worded letter to the Minister of Forests, Doug Donaldson, asking for complete watershed assessment, stakeholder engagement in future cut-block permitting and a ‘time-out’ on all further clear-cut approvals until a clear picture of the municipality’s water quality, quantity and timing of flow could be confirmed. As of today, the district has yet to receive ANY reply.
Will you, if elected to council, support resending the June 26 2019 pause letter to the current Minister of Forests, Katrine Conroy and others asking for a response to the district?
What additions would you suggest to this second request letter, considering clear cutting has continued for the intervening three-plus years and still further road building and tree removal are planned?
8.0 Watershed Reserves:
A Watershed Reserve is needed. Historically Peachland enjoyed a watershed reserve, or a locally protected watershed as do Vancouver and Victoria currently, not the provincially operated, multi-use system challenging our community health and resources today. Given that all areas on the planet are experiencing climate change and that water scarcity is a large part of that, and given that our first syilx people, pioneers, settlers and farmers knew the value of protecting a community’s source water, would you agree to the physical expansion of Peachland’s jurisdiction for protection of biodiversity including our water sources?
9.0 Does Peachland Have Enough Water?
As of August 2022, no one in the District of Peachland can confirm we have enough water for all current and planned developments. A rough calculation suggests a population increase of 11,000 is possible if all approved and proposed developments on the books in the planning department are completed and occupied. District Consultants’ water supply reports quote a variety of numbers, gleaned from a variety of inconsistent assumptions. One report stated that in order to provide enough water for these developments, major engineering would be required in order to divert creeks and other water sources into Peachland Creek to feed the Peachland water-treatment plant. Besides the financial costs, such engineering works have the potential to permanently alter the ecosystem of the watershed, destroy fish-bearing habitat, wildlife connectivity, forests and habitat, recreation opportunity, trail systems, hunting grounds, and environmental water flow patterns.
How much are you willing to compromise our water source for the sake of development, given that climate change may very well prolong water shortages, watering restrictions and potential engineering works for increasing the flow of water could cause irreparable environmental damage to the very ecosystem that creates the water in the first place? Are you comfortable engaging on behalf of the District if acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements in the watershed as well as service negotiations with Glencore or other industry, for example, may be involved?*
10. Healthy Watershed Committee:
Many of the councillor and mayor candidates have included a statement in their platforms about protecting Peachland’s watershed. However the previous two councils experienced difficulty in maintaining a councillor in an active role on the district’s Healthy Watershed Committee.
If elected, and interested in environment, water and climate change issues, will you let your name stand as either the Chair or council representative and commit to regularly attend meetings for this important community committee? *
11. Revisit the 2016 Union of BC Municipalities Watershed Jurisdiction Resolution:
In the fall of 2016, the previous council drafted and delivered a resolution to the Minister of Environment, George Heyman, requesting his ministry expedite the necessary steps to create regulations that will establish an increased role in local key decision making in matters affecting the health and protection of watersheds. The Ministry replied to the district’s resolution on May 17,2017, saying they will tackle watershed jurisdiction once they have registered all ground water permits and wells. It has been five years and still nothing from the MOE. The modernization of the Water Act still poses challenges for locally elected officials when it comes to protecting their communities’ drinking water supply against activities in their watershed.
If elected will you support council in taking this resolution to the Ministry of Environment, again, this time enlisting the other local Okanagan and Shuswap communities like Vernon, Joe Rich, Duteau, Silver Hills, Swansea, Apex, who have also voiced support in being their own agents responsible for approvals and control of activities in community source-water areas?
12. Where does Water Rate:
If successful in October’s municipal election, on a scale from 1-10, where do you rank source water quality, quantity and timing of flow for Peachland residents?*
13. Where do you Rank source water protection?
Where (if at all) have you ranked source water protection on your campaign platform or in your list of priorities, if elected?*
14. Mining in the Watershed:
Brenda Mine brought about 200 jobs annually to the community. TNI, Gasthaus, and IGA supply a comparable number of jobs without any permanent damage or threat to the watershed, infrastructure, and biodiversity.
If elected, will you support prospecting, open pit or underground mining in our watershed?
15. Okanagan Basin Water Board and Okanagan Reservoir levels:
Concerning regulation and management of Okanagan Lake, the current infrastructure in place – including the Okanagan Dam in Penticton – dates back to the 1970s with an operating plan still primarily focused, poorly, on flood control. Climate change unknowns, upland deforestation by commercial logging, wildfires, roads and developments have contributed to disastrous and expensive lakeshore flooding in 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2022. What were 150-year and 200-year flood events are now almost annual occurrences. Peachland council was the first Okanagan region civic government to demand change in water level management of the lake because of flooding costs imposed on that community.
Do you support this Peachland lead initiative to revisit ‘full-pool’ and will you support other ‘’one valley, one water’’ OBWB initiatives, if elected?
16. Costs to upgrade, expand or build a new Water Treatment Plant:
In 2015, an amendment to the Peachland Water Master Plan was completed by Urban Systems, the conclusion of the report noted that “sufficient water is available within the Peachland Creek watershed to meet the demands of the District of Peachland and the environmental flows as required by the Ministry” at that time. As of today, the existing treatment and distribution system is appropriate for approximately 7100 people. With a future population projection in the region of 15,000, there will need to be some upgrades undertaken to meet those flow demands. For example, after the 7100 threshold is reached, an upgrade in storage / reservoir capacity at the treatment plant will be required. Similarly, once the 11,300 threshold is reached, an upgrade of the treatment plant (allowing us to generate more treated water) will be required.
As these costs are principally related to further development, the cost will be borne by the developers through the mechanism of development cost charges. The most recent DCC update report estimates the overall costs for all of these upgrades to be approximately $45M. All previous and current developments did not supply near enough money to pay for the costs of the past WTP nor current new WTP, (usage fees, a $400 annual WTP tax, Federal and Provincial grants contributed to the costs).
If elected, how will you ensure that these new costs will not be borne AGAIN by the current residents but, by the developers and the future residents through the mechanism of development cost charges, as the district staff suggest? Do you believe this is even possible? If so, how will you ensure Peachland starts to collect a portion of this $45M in your four-year term?