An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IT WILL TAKE the wisdom of Solomon to sort out the Noble Creek water mess.
The dilemma is familiar to anyone on a small rural water system. The difference is that the Noble Creek system in question is for irrigation.
The City of Kamloops, which inherited it around the time of amalgamation in the 1970s, wants out. According to the City, it costs taxpayers about a quarter of a million dollars a year to operate and brings in only 10 or 15 per cent of that in water tolls.
As Mayor Ken Christian puts it, the residents of Aberdeen shouldn’t be subsidizing water for Noble Creek. It’s not hard to sympathize with that position. Why should the residents of one part of town pay for somebody else’s water system — especially one designed to grow hay and water livestock.
But the City has some explaining to do. Why does a small rural system cost so much to maintain? If it’s because it’s in terrible shape, why has the City let it go so long without fixing it? Why hasn’t it obtained federal-provincial infrastructure funding to help defray capital costs? Why hasn’t it put a referendum to property owners asking if they’re willing to share the costs of upgrades?
Why did it send a registered letter to property owners, and only then call a public meeting, instead of holding a proper consultation process to find a mutually agreeable solution?
And what about those operating costs? With 36 properties on the system, it means the fees are too low. But unless costs can be cut, there’s no way property owners can ante up all that’s needed.
Whatever the answers are, somebody isn’t going to like them. The new council is about to be tested with its first ordeal by fire, er, water.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.