(Jill Hayward photo)

District of Barriere making long term plans for a sustainable future

Water restrictions remain as Barriere plans to drill new well

“Water restrictions will remain in effect for a while longer,” was the message from District of Barriere CAO Bob Payette and Utilities Manager Ian Crosson during a Nov. 20 interview with the North Thompson Star/Journal at municipal hall.

As a result of a number of challenges that have come up with Barriere’s water supply system, Stage 2 watering restrictions have been ongoing since the summer of 2019 and shall remain in place until the situation is rectified. However, there is now light at the end of the tunnel for the town and its’ residents.

“We’re going to forge ahead and look at drilling a new well at the Spruce Crescent location,” said Payette, “We are going through the process now for requests for qualifications from companies to give us quotes on drilling a new well.”

Spruce Crescent is where Deep Well 1 (DW1) and Deep Well 2 (DW2) are situated.

Payette explained that DW1 is an older well and has been out of commission for some time. Right now, DW2 is the municipality’s main source of water, and it is also the well that Payette says they are “currently keeping an eye on”.

“That is the area where we are going to drill the new well so that we can have a redundant water source,” said Payette, “The district, with the help of TRUE Engineering, has just put out requests for proposals, and we are hoping to get through that tender process as fast as possible and get started by Christmas.”

The district has submitted a grant application for $4 million dollars to construct a treatment facility for the Spruce Crescent wells.

“We are not sure exactly what the treatment plant will ultimately look like but we have reviewed some viable options, if we can get the grant money,” Payette said, “The treatment plant is part of our long term water plan which will be presented to council, in final copy, on Dec. 7.”

Crosson added, “Every municipality and every purveyor of water needs to generate what we call a Master Water Plan that guides the long term process. When I started with the district, the water plan had ended, and I was tasked with creating a new one. This new plan will probably be a 10 year plan and we are currently working on phase one. Phase one of that plan targets source water, i.e. the new well, and also treatment options.”

“Concurrent to the water plan we also have to work with Interior Health on a Water Conservation Plan and a water quality program,” said Payette, “That also includes the upgrading and updating of our Water Utilities Bylaw and the recognition of that valuable resource.”

He noted the first reading of the revised Water Utilities Bylaw (District of Barriere Water System Bylaw No. 189) has already been received from council. This new bylaw will amalgamate the Cross Connection Control Bylaw, the Water Restrictions Bylaw, and the Water Works Bylaw.

“Staff have amalgamated three water bylaws into one updated Water Utility Bylaw, and we are just in the process of the consultation now, then council will have a chance to consider second and third reading at the next council meeting, and we are hoping to get to final adoption of that bylaw,” said Payette.

He added the next step forward will then be an overall Fees and Charges Bylaw, “so they all work hand-in-hand and are all geared towards our Water Conservation Program”.

Crosson noted that it has been difficult for people to access all those water bylaws via the current district’s website when “they were spread all over”.

“By amalgamating them all into one it will create ease of use for the consumer,” said Crosson, We expect the district’s new website to be up in about two months, then residents can go to ‘water bylaw’, click on and get the whole meal package right there. We are hoping that people will take the time to read this bylaw as there will be some changes, including a new fine structure, and it would be in their best interests to read it.”

Regarding the two wells in Bradford Park, Payette says, “They are still in commission and are going to be used in the system as back up for the district’s source water. We are also looking at opportunities to utilize that water for bulk water services.”

He also says the district is going to start looking at the sanitary sewer system, and will then do a complete overall long term master plan for the sewer system. This will include the current system and any new additions that are required.

“We are also initiating an Asset Management Plan, a process where utilities staff identify and log all of the various parts and pieces of our water and sewer distribution systems, cost out the long term lifespan and replacement costs so that we can budget appropriately,” said Payette.

Crosson added that as the district moves forward in applying to the province for infrastructure grants there are a number of requirements for the applications.

“The province needs to see included in that grant application a conservation plan, an asset management plan, and our master plan as well, whether that be for water or sewer,” said Crosson, “So if we are applying for an infrastructure grant we must provide our approved planning documents at the same time.”

In regards to the status of the Louis Creek Industrial Park (LCIP) site, the CAO said the district is still actively trying to market the remaining lots that are available. He noted Zoning Bylaw No. 111, Amendment Bylaw No. 188 for lots 1 and 2 on Enterprise Way in the LCIP to rezone those two lots to ‘I’ (industry) has received first and second reading. A public information meeting was also held on Nov. 16, for residents in the immediate area of the zoning changes.

“There was some good information provided by members of the public at the public information session,” said the CAO, “Council has since provided further redirection, and the application will then go back to council for third reading.”

He stated the LCIP currently has a “rudimentary water system” that can provide domestic water to the lots in the park at this time, and added the district is “currently looking at a build out of that system”.

“We would probably have to add a reservoir and a second well, but that’s a little bit further down the road,” said Payette, “For now we have enough water for domestic use for the various operations down there. We are trying to keep that at a zero cost to the taxpayer.”

Asked about plans to move municipal hall from the Ridge to the HY Louie building in the downtown core, Payette answered, “That’s a high priority for council in relocating to the downtown building, but that priority requires cash which we don’t have. However, we did submit for an economic recovery grant for that to occur and will maybe hear back in the spring. That facility needs about $1.5 million dollars in renovations to make it habitable, so without a grant it would be pretty difficult to do.”

The CAO said he was happy to report the proposal for a multi family complex behind the HY Louie building in Barriere’s downtown area has taken a step towards funding the project by the submission of a grant targeted for January, with the successful recipients to be announced early in 2021.

Asked if the $730,000 recently granted to the District of Barriere by the Federal Safe Restart Agreement had been earmarked for a project, Payette answered, “Being able to put $730,000 in the bank was a nice surprise to offset the lost revenues we experienced due to Covid. It’s going to be well received for the upcoming budget wherever we have shortfalls because we did not get the revenue we would usually get over the course of the year. We want to make sure we spend it wisely as we move ahead with the budget that we are currently working on for next year.”