One of the early orders of business for the regional district in taking over from the Union Bay Improvement District (UBID) is the new water plant’s office upgrade.
The project was actually identified by the last UBID board as a priority for the Comox Valley Regional District, and a report was presented to the service conversion working group on July 22. The plan is now to add a permanent office and washroom facility.
“Obviously, these projects need to be done,” Area A director Daniel Arbour said. “Beyond that, I think we’ll be receiving a water master plan in five or six months … which will kind of delineate future financial requirements.”
At the July 27 CVRD board meeting, directors approved a motion to amend the 2021 budget for water service in Union Bay. The move will allow spending of up to $100,000 for the installation of the portable-style office and washroom. As well, the motion included spending $40,000 for information technology improvements, specifically fibre optic connectivity at the new water treatment plant, which opened in 2020.
“In the short term, let’s get those two projects done,” Arbour said.
The funding is coming from a transfer of $140,000 from a capital works reserve, once the service and reserve are formally established on Aug. 10. In response to a suggestion the regional district look to funding from Community Works Funds to cover the cost, CVRD chief financial officer Myriah Foort cited the timeline for the work.
“We did want to move ahead with these projects,” she said. “They can be re-allocated directly later.”
The CVRD staff report notes that the new plant was built without a washroom or office as part of the facility and staff have been running operations from a recreation vehicle rented on a month-by-month basis. One of the aims of the project is to reduce long-term operating expenses.
As far as the IT improvements, CVRD water services constantly monitor infrastructure via Internet connection, but at present the Union Bay plant has no Internet access and is unable to connect to the CVRD network. Through the IT upgrade, fibre optic line will need to be trenched to the nearest buried line. It is estimated this work could take about six months.
“We’re wanting to enhance and integrate the two water systems,” Foort said. “It does take quite a bit of time with the Internet providers.”
The regional district took over the three services of water, fire protection and streetlights at the beginning of July following discussions in recent months between the CVRD and UBID. This was a result of last fall’s referendum in which a majority of voters in Union Bay supported amalgamation of services.