New water plant a necessity for Ashcroft

A reader writes to say that Ashcroft residents need to understand the reality of the water treatment plant situation.

Dear Editor,

As part of the council that worked for the past 10 years with Interior Health on a long-term plan to make our water safe for everyone, it was disappointing to see members of the public collecting signatures against the water treatment plant.

It’s apparent that many people are not listening to the facts and would rather believe that things can continue along the same way. Consider for a moment the fact that Kamloops has doubled in size over the last 40 years and that the Shuswap Lake and Thompson River areas have been developed. All of this development puts a strain on our source of water and impacts its health and sustainability.

If more than 10% [of registered voters] or 148 forms are filed then the Village will have to hold a referendum to acquire public authority to borrow the money to complete the water treatment plant. The cost for a referendum is $5,000–$7,000, and if the referendum fails Interior Health will issue an order that the plant be built anyway.

Why would anyone force the Village of Ashcroft to spend this amount of money when the outcome will be decided by IH?

I have heard that the Village has not been consulting with the public and no one knows what is going on. The topic of water has been on Community Forum agendas for years. We have reported at council meetings that we were developing the water master plan that would be the groundwork for developing the water treatment plant.

Because we have worked closely with IH they have granted us time to apply for funding to assist with the cost. The $5.7 million grant that we received was one of the largest grants awarded. If we forfeit this grant it’s a sure bet we will never get another one, and then taxpayers will have to pay the entire cost of the project.

Anyone who was interested knew that our water system was not meeting regulations and that upgrades were required.

If we wish to attract new residents and businesses to our community we have to prove to them that this is a great place to come. Having Water Quality Advisories posted every spring does not give confidence to visitors that our water is safe. This is 2016 and everyone is entitled to safe drinking water. The elderly or the sick or the very young should not have to boil their water to ensure that it is safe to drink.

Past council and current council have worked hard to get to this place. The increased costs are around $70 per year for the average 60-foot lot, which is less than most of us spend on cable TV, cell phones, or the internet per month.

We are not leaving a legacy of debt for our grandchildren, but rather an affordable, safe drinking water system.

I urge all of you to reconsider and do your own research. If you have submitted an AAP form but change your mind prior to 4:00 p.m. on Monday, June 13 you may go to the Village Office and ask to have your form cancelled.

You may not agree with the regulations, but taking steps to ensure the health and safety of our residents at a reasonable cost is the action that council must take.

Andy Anderson

Taxpayer and former Mayor