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Texada Island group wants upgrade and expansion of water treatment system

Gillies Bay Improvement District seeks funding in order to meet Drinking Water Protection Act standards
UPGRADE REQUIRED: Gillies Bay Improvement District is seeking federal funding for improvement and expansion of the water treatment system, but there was confusion at the qathet Regional District board meeting about whether the improvement district would be applying for funds the regional district is allocated.

Gillies Bay Improvement District (GBID) wants to apply for funding to upgrade its water treatment system but the nature of the request was unclear to the qathet Regional District (qRD) board of directors.

At the September 23 qRD board meeting, directors received correspondence from GBID chair Chuck Childress, who stated that Gillies Bay does not meet the standards of the Drinking Water Protection Act during the summer and the community is put on a boil water advisory due to the inadequate water treatment system.

Childress stated that GBID would be applying for a federal gas tax grant to upgrade the water treatment system and expand the system to Shelter Point. Childress was looking for a letter of support for its grant submission from the regional district.

At the meeting, chief administrative officer (CAO) Al Radke said the most prudent initiative would be to receive the letter and then ask Electoral Area D (Texada) director Sandy McCormick to converse with Childress.

Radke said the correspondence mentions the federal gas tax fund, which implies the improvement district is possibly going to come to the regional district for a grant application from the community works fund.

“It might be a little redundant that we support their letter, then three weeks from now receive a grant application for the community works fund,” said Radke. “Perhaps the director in that particular area could discuss with the chair [of GBID] what their intentions are because it doesn’t seem clear to staff.”

Electoral Area A director and board chair Patrick Brabazon said a motion to receive was in order and then the board could put the onus on McCormick to clarify matters.”

McCormick said she had a couple of questions. She asked if GBID applied to the gas tax fund, if that was the funding stream the regional board recommends go forward.

Radke said the board needs to find out what GBID’s intentions are because the group says it is applying for this federal fund.

“Until we know what their intentions are, I would have to assume they are trying to apply to us for the community works fund or through our community works fund,” said Radke.

McCormick said GBID specifically referred to the gas tax fund.

Board seeks clarification

Brabazon said he thinks the CAO was alluding to the fact that there is no such thing.

“There is the community works fund,” said Brabazon.

Radke said the so-called federal gas tax grant funds the community works fund.

Brabazon said he would like clarification as to what GBID is after.

McCormick said what they are after is clean, safe drinking water for residents of Gillies Bay.

“It’s a worthy goal,” said McCormick. “It’s a goal we all have for clean, safe drinking water for our residents.”

Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said his understanding is that the gas tax fund, which is a federal fund, was renamed the community building fund in June 2021, and the way it works, as he understands it, is that the money comes from the federal government to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, which then doles out funding to regional districts and municipal governments based on population.

“When we get it we call it the community works fund,” said Gisborne. “It used to be a federal gas tax grant, which is now the community building fund, and when it comes to us, it’s the community works fund. Is my understanding of that correct?”

Manager of financial services Linda Greenan said the name of the fund has changed so it is now the Canada Community-Building Fund, and the regional district receives the same allocations. She said the agreement for use of the funds does not change.

“Really, the only change with our relationship with the fund is the name change,” said Greenan. “So, I guess the question is, will the GBID be asking the regional district for gas tax, or community works fund, or are they asking another body?”

Brabazon said there was a motion to receive the correspondence before the board, and McCormick said if the request was also that she converse with the GBID regarding which funds they are intending to apply for, then she would be happy to do that. She asked what would be the best regional district committee to discuss her conversation.

Radke said the finance committee would be the most appropriate.

The board voted to receive the letter.

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