Nanaimo is willing to talk water with Lantzville.
According to an in-camera document recently released by the City of Nanaimo to the public, Nanaimo councillors voted unanimously in May 2016 to accept the District of Lantzville’s request to renegotiate the Lantzville-Nanaimo water supply agreement, which was signed between the two municipalities in 2014.
Currently, the deal allows for water connections to be made to a maximum of 225 homes in upper Lantzville, plus 50 new development connections each year. The deal allow opens the possibility of 211 homes that are currently on private wells to receive municipal water.
In April 2016, Lantzville approved a number of amendments to the water agreement including changing a line of wording in the agreement from ‘capital costs’ to ‘surcharge,’ which, if made, would quell concerns from some members of council about any liabilities that the district might need to assume.
Two months later, Lantzville sent a delegation to a Nanaimo city council meeting, where they reiterated their desire to change portions of the agreement. Among the other changes Lantzville is looking for include involving the Nanoose First Nation into the agreement to ensure Snaw-Naw-As can have the option to connect to Nanaimo water in the future as well as allowing existing developments to be included in the 50 new connections per year.
Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay said Lantzville’s requests appeared reasonable to him and he didn’t see why they couldn’t be made.
“I think their amendments made sense to me,” he said. “Lantzville was looking for some amendments to the agreement and I was not objected to that, so just binding that into a resolution that says ‘you’re prepared to renegotiate,’ I was fine with that wording.”
McKay said there were Nanaimo councillors who wanted to open the discussions up and renegotiate the entire deal, adding that he was opposed to that idea.
“I think there may well be other members of council that wanted to tear it down to its core and start again,” he said. “I was certainly not in favour of that.”
Lantzville Mayor Colin Haime said he wasn’t aware of Nanaimo’s decision. He said Lantzville will not reopen the agreement in order to get the changes it’s seeking, adding that those changes do not have a negative impact on Nanaimo.
“The amendments that we’ve requested have a neutral effect on the City of Nanaimo but have a positive effect in terms of our ability to get water to the residents who need water, which was the original intent of the water agreement,” Haime said. “Realistically, when it comes to the agreement, there is no way we are going to vote to reopen it and effectively move backwards.”
Haime said the release of the in-camera decision by the city doesn’t change the direction of Lantzville council. He said Lantzville’s amendment requests do not mean the district wants to renegotiate the whole agreement with the City of Nanaimo.
“I understand where they are coming from on that, but recognizing that there are two parties in an agreement, there is no way that we would take two steps backwards to get the water to the residents that need it,” he said.