Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star Published: November 21, 2009 12:00 PM

Greater Vernon politicians are gathering again to keep a water dispute from boiling over. The mayors of Vernon and Coldstream and the directors of BX-Swan Lake and BX-Silver Star will meet Tuesday to discuss water distribution and the city’s decision to withdraw from the service. “I want them to get their issues on the table,” said Herman Halvorson, North Okanagan Regional District chairman, who will facilitate the session. “I’ve requested that the four parties come forward with their problems and hopefully we can work them out. If they don’t talk, it won’t happen.” This will be the second meeting since mid-September and among the outstanding issues are governance of the function and non-agricultural users (such as hobby farmers) receiving the low water rate. The city has claimed that withdrawing from water distribution will lower rates for Vernon residents, increase customer accountability and improve customer service.

However, Coldstream and the electoral areas say water rates for their residents could soar if Vernon is not involved. Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director, believes dismantling of the function could have negative consequences for all jurisdictions. “We have to keep talking. We have to make progress,” he said. Wayne Lippert, Vernon mayor, says all of the onus has been on the city to find a solution, and it’s time the electoral areas and Coldstream came to the table. “My biggest hope is everyone works to find solutions. Give us options and let’s talk about it,” he said.

The public can observe the proceedings, which start at 3 p.m. at the NORD office.


"Wayne Lippert, Vernon mayor, says all of the onus has been on the city to find a solution, and it’s time the electoral areas and Coldstream came to the table."

It was the City which decided to go to arbitration. They are the ones who do not like the terms of the agreement signed by their previous Councils. The rest of the participants are honouring that agreement. No wonder the onus is on the City.


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I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.