An open house in January on the proposed North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project drew more than 130 people. The process can move forward after the Regional District of North Okanagan’s petition for borrowing its share of the funding passed. (Morning Star - file photo)

North Okanagan wastewater project petition process successful

Regional District of North Okanagan plans for sewer service to Swan Lake Corridor can move ahead

Sewer service for the Swan Lake Corridor took a major step forward as the majority of property owners signed the petition showing their support for the project.

The petition for the Regional District of North Okanagan’s (RDNO) share of funding is one of many required steps to develop the North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project, a partnership between the RDNO, Township of Spallumcheen and the Okanagan Indian Band.

The bylaw will now be sent to the Inspector of Municipalities for approval. With this approval, the RDNO will be able to establish a local service area and proceed with borrowing $5.2 million if the federal/provincial grant application for $24.3 million is approved.

RELATED: North Okanagan petition borrowing process approved for wastewater recovery centre

The RDNO petition had to pass two tests to achieve approval from the community: the owners of at least 50 percent of the parcels liable to be charged for the proposed service had to sign the petition, and the signed petitions had to represent at least 50 percent of the net taxable value of all land and improvements within the proposed service area. The petition passed both tests, with 63 per cent of the parcels, and 78 per cent of the value voting in favour.

The RDNO received petitions from around the world as multiple property owners in the service area sent in their support despite being out of the country.

The Swan Lake Corridor has long been identified as a future growth area in the RDNO’s Regional Growth Strategy and Official Community Plans once community sewer became available.

RELATED: North Okanagan project open house draws crowd

“It has taken us years to get to this stage, and the successful petition marks a huge milestone for the project,” said Bob Fleming, RDNO Area B Director. “It confirms that the community supports this project and brings us closer to making the North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project a reality.”

In December 2018, a Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group consisting of eight members (residents, business owners, environmentalists, farmers, and sewer and septic industry experts) was formed to provide a community perspective on the project development and implementation; build awareness of the need for providing wastewater recovery, treatment, and reuse; and, identify and assess options for meeting partnership objectives.

“We thank the Community Working Group for their tireless efforts in sharing information with the community and building awareness of the project and the petition,” said Amanda Shatzko, RDNO Area C Director. “They went door to door in the rain and snow on their own time to talk to property owners about the project. Their tenacity and enthusiasm to make our community better environmentally and economically was vital to the success of the petition.”

In addition to the door to door information, an open house was held in January to engage with residents and businesses about the North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project and the petition. More than 130 people attended the event.

The North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project 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.

The $36.9 million project would service RDNO Electoral Area B and C residences and businesses in the Swan Lake Corridor, the Township of Spallumcheen’s southeast industrial area, and portions of Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) IR4 by providing wastewater collection and treatment facilities and a distribution network to distribute reclaimed water to area farmers.

The project is contingent on senior government grant funding ($24.3 million). If the grant funding is approved, the remainder of funding for the project will be provided by the RDNO ($5.2 million), an Okanagan Basin Water Board Sewerage Facilities Assistance Grant ($5.9 million), and Township of Spallumcheen reserves ($1.5 million).

The partners have taken many steps to ensure the project is shovel-ready should senior government funding be approved.

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