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Residents offer $2 million solution to water problem

By Kate Irwin Staff
The Columbia Valley Pioneer

The Dry Gulch Development Property Owners have offered $2 m toward a new water system.

A new proposal has come to light that could finally help Dry Gulch get the new water system it needs, after residents offered to stump up $2 million to help.

A group calling themselves the Dry Gulch Development Property Owners has offered to put forward about $2 million of their own money to help the community solve its water woes with a standalone water treatment plant.

That money, in combination with a provincial grant for close to $1.8 million, could be enough to create a community water treatment plant (estimated cost, $3.7 million), providing Dry Gulch with Interior Health-approved water for the first time since 2004.

“A group of Dry Gulch parcel owners and property owners have come up with a proposal to put in $2 million of their own money to make up the shortfall for a standalone treatment plant,” said Area G Director Gerry Wilkie at a Regional District committee meeting on February 2nd. “Obviously there are quite a few things that are unclear at this point about the proposal.”

In order to gather more information about what residents have in mind, the RDEK board chose to postpone the decision on whether to hold a second water vote in Dry Gulch for six months.

But concerns were also raised at the meeting regarding the upcoming March 31st deadline set for use of the $1.8 million in provincial funding. Currently $1.5 million of that money sits in Regional District accounts, explained Lee-Ann Crane, Chief Administrative Officer.

“We have about $1.5 million in the bank,” she said. “I think the risk would be losing the [rest]. But I don’t know for sure … I think the risk is much less on the $1.5 million. We know they want something happening with that money, the cheque has been written and it’s off their books, so to speak.”

This latest proposal, which residents approached the Regional District with at the end of January, would offer an alternative to the current solution for Dry Gulch’s water problem being proposed by Kinbasket Development Corporation and PPP Canada.

Their solution, which was brought before the RDEK board in August 2011, would see a collaboration between the Regional District, Radium Resort, Kinbasket, PPP Canada and an as-of-yet unknown private contractor. Water would be brought from a reservoir on Shuswap Indian Band land, just outside Invermere, up along Highway 93/95 to Dry Gulch, in addition to sewage services being provided for Radium Resort.

“The whole concept of the $18 million Kinbasket/PPP Canada water and sewer project is, quite frankly, pie in the sky and in my mind completely unreasonable,” said RDEK director and Invermere mayor Gerry Taft at the board meeting on February 2nd.

“I really question how you can have a business plan at all approved for an $18 million project that covers, in the Dry Gulch area, about 46 properties … The whole thing is just completely out there.

“I’m interested to learn more about this offer from [Dry Gulch property owners] and what that looks like but I think this board should be very, very cautious to get involved in any kind of partnership in this PPP Canada $18 million project.”

The board has six months before deciding whether to allow Dry Gulch to vote again on the PPP Canada project — a vote which received only 26 per cent support when it was held the first time around in September 2011.

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