Viewpoint: New water ideas needed

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By PETER VINCENT

Last week’s draconian, finger-wagging proclamation by North Salt Spring Waterworks District trustee Chris Dixon in response to this newspaper’s kid-gloved reproach in its Feb. 6 editorial is little more than self congratulatory back slapping and school yard bullying.

Once again, the NSSWD has turned down another meritorious water hookup application. We should just sweep this board away and start fresh.

As the Driftwood wrote, the application put forward by the owners of the Creekhouse property (to build a suite for an in-house security person) was sound. Many downtown business owners have been the victim of thefts and vandalism (my gym, twice). The downtown core becomes a veritable free-for-all after the sun goes down. A security person in the area would do wonders.

The building owners committed to installing water-saving fixtures throughout the building, which would have resulted in a net savings of water consumption, which would seem like the whole raison d’être for a water board concerned about the diminishing levels of water. They can spin it any way they want (and if you read the article, incredibly, they do), but anything resulting in a net reduction is a good thing. Not so, apparently.

Their stance is “no exceptions, no how.” How ham fisted is that?! Most civilized government agencies and boards have a mechanism for exceptions — it is called a board of variance. Most civilized agencies have this mechanism to look at cases that may be worthy of exception. The brightest of the bright green, the “Agricultural Land Commission,” which is mandated to stop the erosion of farmland by development — even that rabidly “preserve and protect” provincial organization has a board that will look at applications even handedly. They will trade tracts of land for other tracts, if deemed useful.

Not so the NSSWD. If legally possible, they quite proudly drown any and all applications, and have the temerity to tell us all what a wonderful job they are doing by standing firm.

Years have been wasted on feeble fixes such as installing aerators in St. Mary Lake that are no longer used. The latest of these is the board’s misguided moratorium. This last affront to common sense with the Creekhouse application being kicked to the curb should be a wake-up call. One would hope that if islanders cry loud enough and long enough, the board may take another look. But that may be asking too much.

In my opinion, it’s time to change course. It’s time to encourage folks to get off the water grid. Salt Spring is famous for its forward, “out of the box” thinking. The NSSWD might want to consider giving district water users incentives such as low-cost loans or tax relief or outright grants to get off the water grid through installing a water catchment system or drilling a well.

And yet here we are, the tail wagging the dog, listening to the same tired old rhetoric with the same old failed “solutions” from the same old entrenched board.

Time for some fresh blood and new ideas.

The writer is a Salt Spring property and business owner.

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