Regional District of North Okanagan Area B and C property owners within the proposed North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project service area will soon decide whether to borrow the funds needed to support their $5.2-million (14 per cent) share of construction costs totalling $36.9 million.
Starting this week, affected Area B and C property owners will receive personalized petition packages from the RDNO outlining long-term borrowing details and rates for their specific properties.
To learn more and ask any questions about the petition, an open house will be held Tuesday, Jan. 22 at Vernon Christian School from 4-8 p.m. Property owners are encouraged to bring their petitions with any questions they might have.
The project will proceed only with senior government grant funding that could cover more than 80 per cent of the project. This includes federal and provincial grants of $24.3 million, an Okanagan Basin Water Board Sewerage Facilities Assistance Grant of $5.9 million, and $1.5 million from Township of Spallumcheen reserves, in addition to approval from Area B and C property owners for their share equal to $5.2 million.
To succeed, the petition must be signed by the owners of at least 50 per cent of the parcels liable to be charged for the proposed service. In addition, people signing must be the owners of parcels that, in total, represent at least 50 per cent of the net taxable value of all land and improvements within the proposed service area.
Property owners who support the borrowing must sign their petitions and return them to the RDNO by March 15. Property owners who oppose borrowing should return the petition unsigned. Petitions, both signed and unsigned, can also be dropped off at the open house.
The project would provide residences and businesses with a safe and sustainable sewer system and treatment facility to protect Swan Lake water quality, provide reclaimed water for agriculture, enhance recreational opportunities, and support economic development for serviced portions of Areas B and C, the Township of Spallumcheen’s south-east industrial area, and Okanagan Indian Band lands within the proposed service area.
Areas B and C Directors Bob Fleming and Amanda Shatzko believe the Wastewater Recovery Project benefits for residential property owners are numerous, including the prevention of costly septic system malfunctions that could further impact water quality and cost property owners tens of thousands of dollars.
“As we heard loud and clear at the Swan Lake commercial area and neighbourhood plan open houses, area residents are interested in the opportunities a community sewer system would bring,” said Fleming. “Future zoning amendments could permit secondary suites and carriage homes on properties serviced by sewer. With sewer, there could also be opportunities to subdivide larger lots in non-ALR areas.”
Added Shatzko: “With community sewer, commercial and industrial property owners would also have growth and subdivision opportunities. And those businesses now pumping and hauling liquid waste would have a reliable, affordable, and more convenient alternative.”
The North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project is a unique partnership involving the RDNO, Township of Spallumcheen, and Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) that will improve Swan Lake water quality, support agriculture, enhance recreation and enable economic development opportunities for residential and businesses property owners and the partner jurisdictions.
“This project will have significant long-term environmental, agricultural, economic, and recreational benefits for RDNO, the Township of Spallumcheen, and the Okanagan Indian Band,” said Shatzko. “Our collaborative insights and partnership approach to stewarding our precious resources and community capital will leave an important legacy for future generations.”