Private group offers $2 million for Dry Gulch water system project

Regional District of East Kootenay will give community six months to refine water system plans.

DRY GULCH — The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) will give Dry Gulch residents six months to refine their plan to bring a water system to the town, and have decided to hold off on transferring nearly $2 million in grant money earmarked for the community to Wilmer and the Spur Valley.

The decision comes after a plan to build a system in partnership with the Kinbasket Water and Sewer company and P3 Canada failed at the petition stage last year.

The RDEK had planned to use the grant money allocated for the failed project for water systems in other areas. But a group of property owners in the community sent a petition to the RDEK last month, urging it to stay the course.

“(The petition) was pretty substantial,” says Area G electoral director Gerry Wilkie. “I think that went quite a way to making the board decide to hold off for now.”

Since then, a group of landowners who have large parcels in the community have also offered to work with the RDEK to build and fund a water system for Dry Gulch themselves.

“The group, through a qualified build/design team would enter into a contract with the RDEK to build the water service system,” explains a letter sent to the board by group spokesman Joe Helmer.

The group has suggested it would also put up about $2 million of its own money to fund the construction, along with the board’s grant cash.

Wilkie says the Shuswap band is also refining its water plan for the community. “So those two concepts, they in fact may merge. So we’re giving it time.”

Though the RDEK grant money was supposed to be used by spring of this year, Wilkie says waiting a little longer shouldn’t be an issue.

“We’re pretty sure the ministry responsible will agree. They’ve pretty well said it’s up to us in a way, so I think we’re okay there and it will give us some time to evaluate this.”