Pressure placed on politicians

A special meeting of the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee has been called to discuss the master water plan

The future of Greater Vernon’s water utility is  being placed in the hands of the politicians.

A special meeting of the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee has been called for Thursday at 3 p.m. and the focus will be determining the next steps for the master water plan.

“How do we get political ownership of the plan?” said David Sewell, Regional District of North Okanagan chief administrative officer.

The fate of the plan has been uncertain since a majority of voters shot down borrowing $70 million for capital expenditures in a November referendum.

One of the questions that will be put before GVAC members is what needs to change with the plan so they can publicly endorse it and move it towards another funding formula?

Some of the existing GVAC members endorsed the master water plan leading up to the November referendum but then stated they would vote against borrowing the $70 million for a variety of reasons, including the hope that a negative vote would lead to senior government grants.

“We need to review and consider why there wasn’t the political support,” said Sewell.

“My perspective is we went through a number of steps and inferred there was agreement to follow the Interior Health Authority order. We talked about the financial plan and the financial commitment.”

RDNO staff hope Thursday’s meeting will provide some direction on where their efforts should be targeted in terms of the master water plan.

“We need to determine where we go from here,” said Sewell.

Juliette Cunningham, GVAC chairperson, is looking forward to Thursday’s discussions.

“I can’t predict where we are going. It may give us an opportunity to step back and look at the options,” she said.

Among the issues Cunningham says needs to be considered is how GVAC will negotiate with the provincial government on water standards and when any enhancements to the utility must be initiated.

“The timelines were pretty short,” she said of the proposal put forward during the referendum.