Courtenay council approves sewer, water plans

Courtenay council approved Monday a resolution from Coun. Doug Hillian to request the Transportation Ministry to include funding in next month’s provincial budget to engineer a safe crossing at Ryan Road between NIC and Cowichan Avenue; and to enhance pedestrian, scooter and cycling access along Ryan between Highway 19A and Lerwick Road.

Though it would be expensive, Coun. Manno Theos feels the only option for Ryan is an overpass. But Erik Eriksson said the idea is not realistic in terms of money or structure.

“There’s no way to get an overpass across Ryan,” he said, noting the structural requirements are too high.

The Comox Valley Accessibility Committee has appealed to council for solutions to challenges presented by the narrow walkway on the north side of Ryan, and the lack of a safe crossing. Mayor Larry Jangula cautioned council that a sidewalk upgrade is worth a million dollars and would be Courtenay’s responsibility.

“Be careful what you ask for,” he said, noting BC Transit has offered scooter users a free ride up Ryan.

•Council directed staff to report back about a $10,000 request from the Kumugwe Cultural Society to support a summer art exhibition called Potlatch 67-67, signifying the implementation and lifting of the Anti-Potlatch Law. City CAO David Allen said money is available via gaming funds, but finance director Brian Parschauer cautioned about opening the door to random requests.

Coun. David Frisch suggested the request presents an “opportunity to help with reconciliation.”

The society has a $100,000 budget for the exhibit. It welcomes in-kind contributions such as facility rentals.

•Council unanimously approved five-year financial plans for water and sewer. The water system has a regional and municipal component. The CVRD has some impending costly upgrades to source water infrastructure to address boil water notices, and to provide a continuous supply of quality water. Bulk water rates are increasing for the next five years to pay for the improvements. For 2018, the CVRD rate is increasing from 71 to 75 cents per cubic metre, which represents more than 60 per cent of Courtenay’s annual operating costs.

“We can’t keep upping the costs,” Jangula said.

Frisch said the district is well positioned to receive grant funding for a proposed $110 million water treatment system, which would cost $86 per household for those connected to the CV Water System.

“We don’t have the grants yet,” Jangula said.

In March, the CVRD will seek consent to borrow up to $29 million via the Alternate Approval Process. Coun. Bob Wells, chair of the CVRD Water Committee, has been making sure senior governments are aware that the project needs to be done.

“I’m fighting to get as much grant funding as possible,” he said.

Though the target is $50 million, Wells said he is “fighting for $75 million.”

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