Lack of microphone at public hearing a problem

Public expected better answers from FVRD regarding water usage in Harrison Mills

Being new residents in the area, we attended our first Public Hearing, Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Harrison Mills Community Hall.

Holding such an important FVRD Public Hearing in mid August, during a high vacation time period and being the warmest time of year, left us with the feeling that public attendance was curtailed because of the poor scheduling.

Because of the lack of a microphone many people in the audience, especially those at the back of the hall, did not hear the verbal submissions well, if at all. Even ourselves, who sat in the front row, did not hear a good portion of the quieter verbal submissions. We’re sure many persons left early because of having to strain to listen.  Considering the importance of the issue, in reality, being the extraction of water and the increasing interest in the selling of it for profit, we feel that the FVRD staff were lacking in their duty by not making sure people could be properly heard…after all it was titled a public ‘hearing’.

We were surprised that not all 7 board members were present. It gave us the impression that those missing members were partial to the re-zoning, having already made their up their minds by not taking into consideration the varied view points expressed during that meeting.

For the FVRD board members to go ahead and vote on such an important issue indirectly involving water extraction, at this time, before the Province of B.C. has the new B.C. Water Sustainability Act, in place sometime next spring, is acting in haste, we feel, and leaves us with the question…why so fast?

Since the applicant stated, at the meeting, that if he didn’t get the re-zoning approval, he would then build a water bottling facility elsewhere.  That would mean he could still continue extracting his 25,000 gallons of water per day, from his property (and possibly have that amount increased if the re-zoning goes through) trucking the water off sight, to be processed,  while his water bottling facility is under construction, elsewhere. Therefore there would be no disruption to his present bulk water business, as it would be, if he were to begin building the new facility on his present property.

Two points, that we made note of, could not/were not answered by the FVRD staff, at that meeting: first…when do water licenses come up for renewal?  The meeting focus was on the construction of a water bottling facility, in an eco-sensitive area, that would have to be re-zoned, changing the OCP from Institutional to Resource Industrial.

We expected that the FVRD would be well educated on the subject of water as the issue of water is at the forefront in the Province and goes hand-in-hand with the bottling of it, in our opinion.

The other point expressed, by a member of the audience, stated as a fact, that the extraction of great amounts of water, from the area’s aquifer, may cause, nearby slope erosion and/or slides, causing severe damage to both the surrounding surface water and properties.

The staff’s answer, in our opinion, was that the FVRD staff will make sure that  the 8,000 sq. ft. water bottling facility would have adequately built foundations to survive such an event.

It was obvious, in our opinion, that the staff member, addressing the statement, was not prepared to expand on the original concern, as presented.

Water Is The New Gold!

Precious B.C. water should never be considered a commodity, in our opinion.

Respectfully,

W. & M. Sikorra

South Lake Errock