The Alternative Approval Process (AAP) for the Comox Valley Water Treatment Project is now finished. At the close of the AAP on March 16 at 4:30 pm, 31 eligible elector response forms were received. As fewer than 10% of eligible electors registered their opposition, the Comox Valley Regional District may now borrow up to $29 million to pay for some of the project costs. With this funding authorized, the District can continue moving the Water Treatment Project forward.
In this Alternative Approval Process those who did not support borrowing public funds for the Water Treatment Project could submit an elector response form indicating their opposition. The number of eligible electors for this AAP was determined to be 47,845. The Corporate Officer has reported that only 31 elector response forms were submitted, well below the 4,785 threshold needed to take the matter to a referendum.
The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) Board can now consider the loan authorization bylaw for adoption at its March 27, 2018 meeting.
“The CVRD now has the mandate to deliver residents the modern system they deserve, a system that meets current health standards and ensures safe, high quality drinking water well into the future,” said Director Bob Wells, Chair of the CVRD Water Committee. “Having the results of the AAP also bolsters our case for grant funding, as it demonstrates strong public support for the project.”
Construction of the new water treatment system is estimated at $110 million. Under the proposed financial strategy, the project will be funded through a combination of at least $55 million from grant funding, $26 million from reserve funds and up to $29 million through long term borrowing. The average cost to Comox Valley Water System users is estimated at $86 per household, per year, over a maximum of 25 years.
The CVRD is pursuing all opportunities for significant grant funding with the provincial and federal governments to secure grant funding to offset at least $55 million (50%) of the total project costs. Land for the future water treatment plant has been purchased. While awaiting grant funding announcements, the project team will finalize project design specifications and establish a shortlist of design-build teams qualified to undertake the project and ensure it is shovel-ready when funding is announced.
Progress has already been made towards improving water treatment for residents – including the installation of temporary ultraviolet (UV) treatment at the existing chlorination treatment plant in January 2018. This interim measure is expected to reduce boil water notices by approximately 80%. Once the new water treatment system is operational in 2021, all turbidity-related boil water notices will be eliminated.