Dawson Creek city council voted to proceed with the design of a water reservoir that it says could help provide water for the city at a potential cost of $20 million.
At the time of the vote, some councillors expressed concern that an earlier proposed pipeline could be misplaced.
“I hope that (the pipeline) was not lost as we move forward,” said Councillor Terry McFadyen.
“I don’t think it’ll get lost in the shuffle,” said Mayor Mike Bernier. “It’ll be part of the shuffle.”
Last January, city council identified the construction of a water reservoir as their number one priority. Afterwards, city staff put out a request for proposals of designing this reservoir, which was answered by Richmond-based company Urban Systems.
“The scope of the project was to prepare detailed design drawings for a raw water reservoir with a capacity of approximately 2 million cubic meters,” wrote Kevin Henderson, the city’s director of infrastructure and sustainable development, in his report to council. “This new reservoir, along with the City’s existing storage, would provide 365 days worth of water between the river and the treatment plant.”
The project was aimed at increasing the city’s water security. Low levels of rain and other factors put the city’s source of water, the Kiskatinaw River, at all-time lows during the summer, forcing the city to go to stages of water conservation where certain uses of water were not allowed.
Urban Systems’ letter to council noted that the project attempted to lower the risks of using the Kiskatinaw River, including changes in water quality, low flow periods and accidental spills.
On Monday’s meeting, Urban Systems showed their conceptual design, the first of three design phases for the project. According to Henderson’s report, the final design phase is expected in early 2013. According to Urban Systems letter, a conceptuality/feasibility report is scheduled by next February.
“Council has not changed direction that they will not stop the progress on the reservoir,” said Bernier. “We want to make sure that we have all that information so that when we go out to the community this is the information we’ve gathered… about the reservoir and why we think if we spend X number of dollars to fix this because this will solve all our water security problems for decades to come.”
On Monday, council voted to approve a motion to allow the design phase of the water pipeline to go forward, at a cost of over $115,000 in design, and over $53,000 in geo-technical investigation. According to Urban Systems’ letter, this project could provide between two to 2.6 million cubic metres per year.
However, while this is going on, others in the community have different ideas about what should be done for the city’s water situation.
In October, Paul Gevatkoff and other concerned citizens brought forward the idea of a water pipeline from either the Peace or Murray Rivers that could potentially cost $57 million, according to their estimates.
Gevatkoff and others argued that this would provide a more stable source of water for the city over the long term.
However, in November, the city’s chief financial officer stated that the city’s reserves could not pay for this tax increase alone, and that it may lead to a 33.5 per cent tax hike for the city to pay for it.
Gevatkoff disputed these numbers at the time.
However, on Monday, Bernier said that this has not entered the city’s consideration in the past.
“Every report that we’ve had so far, every engineer dating back right to the 1960s says that it’s not practical or affordable to build a water line,” he added. “But if you build a reservoir, that will meet all the needs of the community.”
Despite this recent progress, Bernier noted that council would continue to consult the public about their desire for a pipeline. The next such meeting is planned for 2013, and would be a separate meeting from the normal public budget consultations that take place.
“This is not something that can be wrapped up in a 15 minute monologue at a public meeting,” he said. “It will be up to the community to tell us if we’re on the right page or not.”