A high-profile development area could ultimately hook up to sewer but not from Vernon.
The Regional District of North Okanagan will develop the scope of work needed for a liquid waste management plan, which could lead to a sewer treatment system for the Swan Lake corridor on Highway 97.
“We’ve talked to the Okanagan Indian Band and Spallumcheen about a shared service,” said Bob Fleming, BX-Swan Lake director.
Ongoing commercial and industrial development in the corridor is driving the search for sewer. But the other factor for possibly establishing a sewer service is the fact the City of Vernon refuses to provide sewer unless the corridor annexes into the city.
“Ours is a better model because it addresses the regional growth strategy,” said Fleming of protecting the environment while promoting economic development. “Spallumcheen and the Okanagan Indian Band won’t become part of the city. The RDNO model is allowing for those partnerships.”
Fleming anticipates the process towards a sewer treatment plant could take five years, but he admits there is one potential stumbling block.
“Does it make sense financially?” he said.
However, Fleming says Okanagan Falls, south of Penticton, recently constructed a $12-million facility but residents there only contributed one-third of the funds because of federal and provincial grants.
Support for a liquid waste management plan comes from Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director.
“We’re concerned about the quality of water in Swan Lake,” he said of septic tanks in the area. “This is one step to try and protect the environment.”
In a related matter, third reading has been given to a bylaw that would expand the riparian development permit area along Swan Lake to include commercial and industrial properties.
“We’re trying to ensure water quality in Swan Lake is improving and not deteriorating. It’s good planning,” said Macnabb.