Epcor's Merklin Street pump station.

Epcor's Merklin Street pump station.

White Rock plans water-utility expropriation vote

Council to decide on acquisition route after revealing negotiations with Epcor "not going well."

The City of White Rock will decide Monday what route to take in acquiring the city’s water utility, officials announced this week.

Council voted to hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. on June 29, when they are expected to vote to expropriate the city’s water utility, currently owned by Edmonton-based Epcor.

Council also voted this week to ‘endorse in principle’ staff direction to serve notice and start expropriation proceedings.

The directives were two of five recommendations, amended before council met, that included instruction for staff to bring forward revisions to the 2015-2019 financial plan required as a result of the water-utility acquisition.

“The intent of the revised recommendations is to ensure that council has an opportunity to understand the financial plan amendments… recognizing the full extent of the financial implications that will be before you on June 29,” city manager Dan Bottrill told council.

Last week, the city held a public information meeting to update residents on negotiations with Epcor, noting talks – which have spanned nearly two years – were “not going well.”

The majority of residents who spoke at the meeting were in favour of the city owning its water system.

An Epcor spokesman would not comment to Peace Arch News about negotiations, but described the situation as “business as usual.”

The city first announced its plans to explore ownership of the water utility in March 2013, and three months later, gave notice to Epcor of their intention to purchase it.

Expropriation is one option brought forth by staff that the city can undertake, as well as continuing negotiations or exercising their contractual right to acquire the utility.