By Andrea Klassen – Invermere Valley Echo
Published: January 17, 2012 9:00 AM
Updated: January 18, 2012 9:37 AM
With nearly $2 million in government funding on the line, Dry Gulch property owners are trying to revive a plan to bring a water system to the community.
A group of property owners has submitted a petition to the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK), calling for the same service the community failed to support last fall.
With 33 signatures gathered, “we’ve got two thirds of the yes votes and about $8 million of assessed value, which is way more than what (the RDEK) needed for this to pass in the first place,” says David Shirk, one of several residents working on the petition.
“We feel we can get water for Dry Gulch.”
The most recent water plan for the community would have seen the RDEK form a public-private partnership with the Kinbasket Water and Sewer Company, and the federal government’s Public Private Partnerships Canada fund to build a new water treatment system for the community.
Much of the project’s funding would have come from a $1.8 million BC Community Water Improvement Program grant that has been earmarked for Dry Gulch since 2005.
When the project failed at the petition stage last fall, the RDEK sent a request to the provincial government asking if it could transfer the bulk of the grant money to two other water projects, one in Wilmer and one in the Spur Valley.
The grant is due to expire in March of this year if no project is moving forward.
But Shirk says the community still wants a water system, and many people failed to send in their petition papers (a move required to cast a ‘yes’ vote) because there wasn’t enough information given about the project “for some people to feel comfortable signing a legal, binding document.”
Others, both full and part time residents, didn’t receive their petition information at all, Shirk says.
For its part, the regional district board has asked for another report on the project, which it will look at in February. They’ve also put the reallocation of the water improvement funds on hold.
“The board asked us as staff to just give the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development a call and ask them to hold off on any approvals of reallocating those funds until they receive the report at least,” says RDEK CAO Lee-Ann Crane.
“We’ll be asking them not to cancel the request, but to put it on hold for now.”