Courtenay wants more say in water usage voting
The City of Courtenay wants to have more of a say regarding water usage in the Comox Valley.
Courtenay receives six votes on matters pertaining to the regional district’s water committee, as does Comox and the three electoral areas combined.
The assignment of votes is determined by water usage in 2010. Courtenay accounted for upwards of 59 per cent of the usage, Comox was slightly less than 30 per cent, and the three areas combined for about 11 per cent of last year’s usage. Comox receives three votes while Areas A, B and C each receive one vote.
“That’s where the disparity is,” said Courtenay Coun. Larry Jangula, who was elected chair of the district’s water committee Tuesday. “It has nothing to do with who the bully is or who the biggest player is, it’s supposed to be based on use. It’s about our taxpayers, it’s about our users.”
Courtenay naturally uses more water because it is the only area that is growing, Jangula added.
“Comox is trying to stay under 15,000 population, and the regional district areas are not growing very quickly, but look at the businesses we’re getting and look at the building we’re getting,” Jangula said. “Obviously we’re going to be using more water because we’re getting more people. But the reality is that per capita, we’ve actually dropped our water consumption 27 per cent, and they don’t ever want to acknowledge that.”
Mayor Paul Ives of Comox said the voting system was established following a service review in the early-1990s when a government-hired arbitrator established a 12-vote system.
“Over the years I suppose it’s generally worked out, but I guess in the last year or two Courtenay has felt that somehow they should get another vote,” said Ives, who chaired the water committee last year.
If Courtenay receives another vote, Ives feels Comox is entitled to one more as well.
“When you cap the number of votes at 12, the only way they can get that other vote is to take it from us, and we’re not going to accept that,” Ives said. “The way the water committee was set up by letters patent, the maximum number of votes, in my view, is 12, and you can’t add votes. It’s stuck at 12.”
He said part of the problem is small water service areas in the rural areas.
“They’re consuming about 10 per cent of the water and they get about collectively 25 per cent of the vote,” Ives said.
Board chair Edwin Grieve suggested a vote based on consumption is perhaps counter-intuitive to the idea of consuming less water.