Public input part of water plan

Regional District of North Okanagan will create a strategy for public input on how Greater Vernon Water should evolve

The future of Greater Vernon’s water utility will involve the public.

That promise came from Vernon politicians as a group of residents pushed for changes to the master water plan Monday.

“I’m glad some citizens have come forward,” said Coun. Catherine Lord.

“We will open up the plan and take another look at it. The plan at the regional district is to have public input and consultation.”

Coun. Juliette Cunningham, who is Greater Vernon Advisory Committee chairperson, says the Regional District of North Okanagan will create a strategy for public input on how the water utility should evolve.

“We want an opportunity for all of the public to express their views,” she said.

After the meeting, Cunningham admitted that GVAC must look beyond just the suggestions coming from Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan, which presented Monday.

“We can’t assume one group is speaking for all of the community,” she said.

Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan formed after a majority of Greater Vernon voters shot down borrowing $70 million for water plan projects.

“We need to take a fresh, new look at the master water plan,” said Eric Jackson, group spokesperson.

“People on fixed incomes are finding it difficult to pay their water bills.”

A primary concern for the group is where Greater Vernon is accessing its water.

“We chose the wrong water source to treat,” said Jackson of Duteau Creek, adding that it should only be used for irrigation and domestic water should come from Okanagan and Kalamalka lakes.

The group is also pushing for an independent consultant to review the master water plan and develop affordable rates.