CVRD Area G candidates Lynne Smith, Rod Smith, Lia Versaevel l and Sean Jonas following an all candidates debate at the Saltair Centre. (Mike Gregory Photo)

CVRD Area G candidates Lynne Smith, Rod Smith, Lia Versaevel l and Sean Jonas following an all candidates debate at the Saltair Centre. (Mike Gregory Photo)

BC local elections: CVRD Area G voters ask questions about water, community centre

Saltair voters gathered under the roof of the community centre, a building that has been a sticking point for some, to hear from electoral area director candidates hoping to unite them in the years going forward.

Together on stage for the all-candidates forum hosted by the Saltair District Ratepayers Association were Sean Jonas, Lynne Smith, Rod Smith and Lia Versaevel.

The candidates faced a steady flow of questions about water for the early part of the debate with other queries from the floor coming on the local trail system, development, anchorages and potential for future investment in the community centre.

Sean Jonas said it was important to back up Area G’s water supply and the issue needed to be dealt with in a “reasonable” manner even if the community’s grant application for a filtration system wasn’t successful.

“We have to be very conscious of having clean water. That’s why Island Health has said we’ve got to do this. When it comes down to it, we’ve got the wells that have been built,” Jonas said. “I think at the end of the day if we can combine the ground water with filtration we can cut the cost of filtration. If we get the grant for filtration I’m all for doing it but I’m also all for doing both.”

The CVRD has laid out three options for Saltair’s ongoing clean water supply, including joining up with Ladysmith’s system, groundwater, or a standalone filtration system estimated at upwards of $6-million.

Rod Smith said he was in favour of the “perfectly good water we have right now” but also preferred filtration.

“I also believe strongly that there’s other grant money available,” adding that he’d recently found another grant that would be funded exclusively by the federal and provincial governments. “I honestly don’t think given the type of movement by VIHA in the past on other issues that we’re under the gun to get this done immediately. The water is fine, we’re still drinking it, and I believe we should move forward with the filtering system and know we always have well water as a backup.”

Versaevel said water supply is an issue facing all of Vancouver Island.

“I believe that working together we can all come to a better understanding of how to use the water that we have, how to change bylaws and regulations around groundwater use and also use our imaginations better around grey water,” she said. “There are technologies in place that we could be using to better manage the water resources that we have.”

Lynne Smith said Area G has the largest pure water supply of all the CVRD electoral areas but said options such as drilling well is extremely costly for taxpayers.

“The water that we are receiving in our pipes, we are having issues with because of our distribution system. Our distribution system is old and we do need to address the upgrades and we need to revisit the whole topic of the upgrades as we find we’re running out of money,” she said.

The CVRD purchasing the old school property for $300,000 back in 2014 still seems to also be a point of contention for voters.

One person asked candidates ‘yes’ or ‘no’ if they would consider revisiting the purchase of the school with a referendum soon after the election was over.

“My short answer is no but I think you want a little bit more than that…” said Versaevel before being interrupted by the questioner who wasn’t interested in hearing the reason.

A petition four years ago garnered over 600 votes from local residents opposed to buying the school.

“At the end of the day we have to move forward not backwards. We own the building – it’s ours,” said Jonas, adding that he thinks cost savings can be found for future maintenance.

Some reports have estimated that it could cost $3-million to do repairs and upgrades to the building but the roof was repaired for much less than originally thought.

Lynne Smith referenced the report as an important marker in the state of the aging building.

“It is the only professional engineering report that we have received as a community and that report indicated that $3-million was required. We do not have that amount of money for a building that is still continuing to age,” she said.

Rod Smith said more information was needed and he was “shocked” by the $3-million price tag and called the building a “community asset”

“I’ve been involved in other community assets and infrastructure programs over the 38 years and found millions of grant money and sponsorship to get it done,” he said. “I would say no to fixing up this building totally with tax dollars. I think there’s a happy mix in between.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Centre for Disease Control maps showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 4-10. (BCCDC image)
Parksville-Qualicum passes Nanaimo in new COVID-19 cases

Greater Victoria had more new cases than any other Island area: B.C. Centre for Disease Control

‘For Sale’ signs quickly turned to ‘Sold’ signs as record-high demand for housing meets record-low inventory. (Cole Schisler photo)
Multiple offers and unconditional sales rampant in Ladysmith housing market

Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Zone 3 director Susan Perrey says the market is ‘crazy all around’

From left to right: Vicki Barta, Bruce Ormond, Greg Heide, Gord McInnis, and Charles Harman rehearse via zoom for the upcoming radio play, “Visitor from Planet Zoltan”. (Submitted photo)
Radio plays prove successful for Ladysmith Little Theatre, four more in production

Ladysmith Little Theatre pivoted to producing radio plays during the pandemic

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees in Oyster Bay

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

Ladysmith’s Taylor Walters received the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award and is hard at work pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Human-Computer Interaction at Quest University. (Submitted photo)
Ladysmith teen receives Terry Fox Humanitarian Award for advocating equal access to STEM opportunities

‘Different people think differently and that’s so important for innovation,’ Taylor Walters says

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

An armed officer walks outside Cerwydden Care on Cowichan Lake Road near Skinner Road Wednesday, April 14 around 5:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police standoff at Duncan apartment ends peacefully

Officers surround building as homeowner held in apartment for nearly four hours by adult son

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour Pacific Rim highway closures planned in the next 6 weeks

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

Most Read