By Lyonel Doherty
Bottom line . . . no water, no development.
That’s what a Kelowna developer is saying to the Town of Oliver in his request for domestic water service on Wilson Mountain Road in Area C near Willowbrook.
Scott Linttell of Linttell Projects addressed council recently to present his plan for a 32-lot housing development.
The gated, bare land strata development will include underground services, a community sanitary system and domestic water supply.
Linttell said no rezoning or variance is required for this project.
He pointed out that the existing water quality in the Wilson Mountain Road area is poor due to high levels of uranium. That’s why they need to build a new reservoir and have the Town provide the water.
In 2016 Interior Health sent letters to homeowners recommending they test their wells for uranium and their indoor air for radon gas.
“The development can’t proceed without domestic water,” Linttell stated.
The Town has an existing domestic water line along Highway 97 and an obsolete 7,200 gallon reservoir in the area.
It was noted that the installation of a 700- metre water line will require an easement over Crown lands.
Linttell said they met with neighbours who are generally supportive of the project but very concerned with the high levels of uranium in the well water, which impacts their health and property values.
The developer said his company will design the water system and install it, and ask the neighbours to participate in cost-sharing. He noted the project will provide safe drinking water for 40 residents.
“We could do this on our own as a strata, but we wouldn’t be able to supply water to the residents of the mountain,” he pointed out.
Linttell said it is premature to determine final costs for residents at this point. “We will be pursuing infrastructure grants that would hopefully cover their share.”
Construction is slated to being in May/June.
He said they are asking the Town to supply the water line at a minimum flow of 50 gallons per minute. In addition, they are asking permission to re-purpose the reservoir and water lines with additional pumps and a pump house.
All water connections will be metered, he noted, but the landscaping design will feature xeriscaping instead of lawns.
The plan is to have the regional district operate and maintain the system, however, the regional board has not yet approved such an agreement.
Linttell outlined a number of benefits to local government, including an increased tax base ($150,000 after development), 32 high quality homes ($21 million built by local builders and suppliers), and $2.5 million in project servicing and construction spent locally.
After Linttell’s presentation, water councillor Andre Miller said the developer should take ownership of the reservoir, noting the Town should have nothing to do with it.
Mayor Ron Hovanes said the proposed development is a very worthwhile project, but added his concern about liability, ownership and maintenance.
“There are some real concerns . . . we have no appetite for owning the system.”
But Linttell said he doesn’t want the Town to take on any liability. “All we want is to turn on the tap.”
Water councillor Rick Machial said he’s all in favour of more revenue for the Town, but voiced his concern that 50 gallons per minute will not be enough water for the area.
“My concern is liability, if there isn’t enough water.”
Local resident Janie Hood said not everyone wants to be involved in Linttell’s development.
“We have good water, enough to get by. Our water is 100 per cent safe,” she said. “We do endorse the development, but not if it includes us.”
Fellow resident Doug Allan mirrored Hood’s comments, saying his well water was tested and is of good quality. Allan noted that he doesn’t want to be burdened with any cost-share agreement.
“I wish him all the best, but I don’t want nothing to do with it.”
However, resident John Herbert said the water quality in the area is not fine, noting the high concentration of uranium. He stated that everyone moved to the area not knowing this fact, which he claims was “hidden” by sellers and real estate agents.
“We need to have something there to mitigate this,” he said, referring to Linttell’s development opportunity.
Linttell stressed that he is not putting any residents in hardship over his development, saying people don’t have to tie into the new water system if they don’t want to.