Monday, September 25, 2023
September 25, 2023

Fulford Water Commission member shares frustration leading to resignation


I am writing this to express my frustration with my 12 years spent on the Fulford Water Service board as a commissioner.

During that time the Capital Regional District (CRD) has mismanaged the ratepayers’ water system and violated the trust of the water board members through a process that totally disregards the role of the commissioners in providing guidance and ensuring the financial viability of the water system. 

Almost 20 years ago there was a major project initiated to upgrade the plant and distribution system. During the construction process there were numerous actions taken that reduced the scope of the project that resulted in piping undersized to the needs of the system being installed, despite being specified in the contract as the correct size. Water meters were purchased but not installed, a large section of the distribution system not being installed resulted in a boil water advisory in place for those residents for four years until another referendum raised additional funds to complete what was contracted and promised as part of the original construction. That only occurred after direct action by the commissioners. It’s estimated that $250,000 in contract funding was mismanaged by the CRD on this as a cost to be borne by the 105 ratepayers. 

As a commissioner trying to fulfill the role as an unpaid volunteer I have found that the commission has been treated indifferently by the CRD on a day-to-day basis with decisions overridden, funds expended without authority and a general lack of any respect for the endless hours that we spend trying to protect the ratepayers from the excesses of the CRD. 

Currently this commission is being bullied into being part of an ill-defined project to replace both existing infrastructure that has been in place for years, along with the more recent piping that was installed that is undersized due to a site decision by the CRD manager of the time, despite a contract to install the correctly sized piping at the time. Our recent direction to the CRD was to survey the existing piping to determine the existing condition and remaining life span of the piping. We also have asked that isolating valves be installed on the main distribution branch lines to assist staff in determining and managing any current line issues with existing equipment. Those requests have been in our approved projects list for four years with no action.

Instead what we have received and are expected to rubber stamp is a full replacement of the Fulford distribution system, with both old and new lines to be replaced with new correctly sized piping with new water meters. The old meters purchased as part of the previous project were deemed obsolete — never installed — and surplussed for pennies on the dollar.

This just-received project brief is a very complex report that cost the ratepayers of Fulford tens of thousands of dollars and is not what was requested, approved or required until the current condition of the existing system is assessed. The attitude is that the existing piping is old and, due to CRD mismanagement, some of it is undersized, and even though less than 15 years old, the entire system will be replaced regardless of the wishes or concerns raised by the commission. 

This project will dramatically raise the cost of the water system to the ratepayers, who already pay approximately $200 a month for water today.

I cannot consciously continue to be part of a system that demands there is a commission to monitor and advise the CRD, yet the CRD seems to have the ability to marginalize and ignore the very authority that is supposed to ensure that the system and the CRD are managed effectively and that the system is affordable to the ratepayers. I feel the disrespect shown the volunteers over the years has been shameful, yet nothing changes, and the high-handedness of the CRD means that I am not prepared to continue the fight when there is no point to the effort. There is enough frustration in life without this and I am convinced that regardless of what we do the CRD will do what they want, when they want and without any consideration to the commission or the ratepayers in Fulford.

For the users of the water system in Fulford, be aware that the CRD will cripple the ability of the residents and businesses to exist and there’s nothing you can do about it, but I for one will not facilitate or be part of that effort to legitimize the CRD’s actions.  


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