The boil water advisory that has been in place more than a decade for the Eagle’s Nest subdivision in Canal Flats has finally been lifted as the whole village is now on one water system.
Interior Health rescinded the advisory — which was first issued in June 2003 — on Monday, March 21st.
“It’s exciting news. I’m really pleased. It’s been a long time coming,” said Canal Flats mayor Ute Juras. “There are not two separate water systems any more. There is a single system, pumped from our reservoir in town, supplying the main town as well as the Eagle’s Nest and Painted Ridge subdivisions.”
Canal Flats interim chief administrative officer Sylvie Hoobanoff said the village staff are glad to have the advisory lifted, but pointed out the upgrades on the water systems are not entirely complete yet.
“There’s still work to be done to sort out the water pressure. We’re waiting for a booster pump to be installed. Hopefully it shouldn’t be much longer,” said Hoobanoff, adding that until that pump goes in, “there will still be intermittent water outages.”
When Interior Health first issued the boil water advisory, the Village of Canal Flats was not incorporated, and Eagle’s Nest had a separate water system owned and operated by Mountain Management Services Ltd.
After Canal Flats incorporated, Mountain Management Services continued to operate the Eagle’s Nest water system, then sold it to another private company, before the village finally purchased it some time around 2010.
“We’ve been working on it ever since,” said Hoobanoff, adding the village had also made efforts to get Eagle’s Nest off the boil water advisory even before it owned the subdivision’s water system, after it received a provincial grant in 2007 for water system upgrades.
These efforts were thrown for a loop in July 2012 when the village undertook a counter petition alternate approval process (in which residents are sent letters, and if they are opposed they respond), and property owners in Eagle’s Nest and Painted Ridge rejected the idea of upgrades. Village staff and council members at the time surmised that the rejection was likely the result of a new engineering report putting the cost of such upgrades at $1.6 million, more than double the initially estimated $700,000 to $800,000. Some of the residents of the subdivisions were upset, as they felt that since the subdivisions were part of the village and water is a municipal service, the village should pay for the water upgrades. Several residents in the main part of Canal Flats were equally upset, as they felt that since the Eagle’s Nest water system was exclusive to that subdivision and Painted Ridge, those residents alone should bear the cost of upgrades.
The village eventually gained some traction on the issue in 2013 when residents of the entire village (including both subdivisions) overwhelming voted in another counter petition alternate approval process to merge the two water systems, a move that would improve the subdivisions’ water quality, while at the same time increasing water pressure in the main part of the village. The price tag of the work was $2.7 million, of which the village paid $2.3 million (the remainder came from the provincial grant). Construction work then began in spring 2014 and has been ongoing ever since.