White Rock water takeover in three months

White Rock council voted unanimously to expropriate its water utililty.

The City of White Rock will own its water utility by the end of September, following a vote Monday to expropriate the system from Edmonton-based Epcor.

Council voted unanimously to direct the chief administrative officer to work with the city’s lawyer with a view to acquire title to the water utility by Sept. 30.

The vote marks the end of two years of negotiations with Epcor to buy the utility – talks that Mayor Wayne Baldwin said last month were “not going well.”

In a report on proposed amendments to the city’s financial plan that factored in the need for long-term borrowing to acquire the utility, director of financial services Sandra Kurylo estimated the cost at $23 million. The sum, she explained, includes the cost of completing Epcor’s total water quality management project, which includes chlorination of the system by June 2016.

Other amendments were recommended to enable replacement of the Marine Drive hump retaining wall in 2015 (instead of over 2016-2017); and, to resurrect plans for a million-dollar upgrade to Memorial Park on the waterfront.

All were ultimately carried on a 5-2 vote by council, with Couns. Helen Fathers and David Chesney opposed.

A number of residents who spoke to the water-utility issue encouraged the city to also pursue acquisition of a parcel of land at 1454 Oxford St. that is also owned by Epcor – and being eyed for a two-tower residential development – but not part of the water system.

The land, said Andrew Schulz, has been used as an unofficial park for years, and would go a long way to increase much-needed green space in the city.

Schulz cited reports from as far back as 1958 that indicated White Rock should have more parkland than it does. Currently, the city has four acres per 1,000 citizens, “and we are decreasing this with every development,” he said.

The current assessed value of the site, he added – approximately $13 million – only applies if the city allows its zoning to change.

As is, it’s worth one-tenth that amount, he said.

Susan Watkins asked council to consider the potential detriment of not having the adjacent land available for expansion of the water utility.

The arguments, however, did not sway the majority of council. A motion by Fathers to have staff move forward on the additional site’s acquisition was defeated on a 5-2 vote, with Baldwin and Couns. Bill Lawrence, Megan Knight, Lynne Sinclair and Grant Meyer opposed.

In discussing the motion, Sinclair questioned the timing of Fathers’ suggestion.

“Why this motion now, at this late date?” she said. “You’ve had ample opportunity in closed meetings to bring it up and move a motion. It seems to me kind of late in the day. Perhaps two years ago, something else could’ve happened.”

Describing Monday’s meeting as the first public opportunity to vote on the issue, Fathers said “hindsight is 20/20.”

“I’ve heard from the residents that it’s important to acquire it.”

Chesney supported Fathers’ call, suggesting council “leave it as undeveloped and offer (Epcor) $2 million.”

The decision against prompted derisive scoffs from some council attendees, who suggested council were influenced by developer contributions.

“You got the money from the developers – congratulations,” Schulz said.

Just Posted

South Surrey residents deliver loud ‘no’ to condo proposal

Four- or five-storey building suggested for 152 Street and 26 Avenue

Surrey fairy garden has little children spellbound

Cloverdale fairy garden a wing’s flutter away from George Greenaway elementary school

Surrey firefighters not among 267 being sent to battle Alberta wildfires

‘We haven’t been called upon to be deployed,’ Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis told the Now-Leader on Tuesday

Surrey man charged with impersonating cop in Newton

Harmit Johal, 42, is charged with one count of impersonating a peace officer and two counts of fraud

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Survey finds minimal progress in Canadian military’s fight against sexual misconduct

1.6 per cent of regular-force members — 900 military personnel — reported having been victims of sexual assaults over past year

Raptors beat Bucks 120-102 to even series at 2-2

Lowry pours in 25 as Toronto moves within two games of NBA Finals

Body of missing snowmobiler recovered from Great Slave Lake

Police confirm the body is that of one of three missing snowmobilers

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Fraser Valley chef sentenced to seven years for million-dollar drug operation

Raymon Ranu has been working as a cook since he was arrested for selling fentanyl and cocaine

Cost jumps 35% for Trans-Canada Highway widening in B.C.

Revelstoke-area stretch first awarded under new union deal

Is vegan food a human right? Ontario firefighter battling B.C. blaze argues it is

Adam Knauff says he had to go hungry some days because there was no vegan food

Winds helping in battle against fire threatening northern Alberta town

Nearly 5,000 people have cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nation

Most Read

l -->