We want to thank the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) for organizing planning meetings to assist in reaching a reasonable solution to Windermere’s water needs. We are encouraged with RDEK’s desire to seek a solution that reflects Windermere’s core values — that is, its visions and goals. These visions and goals should guide RDEK in its choice of a private or public solution to the Windermere water upgrade. The planning meetings may also provide insight into Windermere’s attitude about joining with other communities to implement water system improvements.
As the planning process moves beyond these first meetings, we hope that RDEK will take advantage of some of the technical capabilities available in the community to help refine and present alternatives for upgrading the water system. Fortunately, there are citizens in the community who have the necessary experience. One of these professionals, Steve Lackey, has proposed for critical review the “Third Alternative” that seems to meet the provincial health requirements, future Windermere growth and optimum use of the old fire hall. Last year, in two separate meetings, Steve presented this proposal to approximately 70 Windermere citizens and later to the RDEK representative from our area and RDEK senior staff. In each meeting, this “Third Alternative” provided meaningful discussion of opportunities for the Windermere water upgrade. This proposal could serve as a focus for providing relevant input to the RDEK planning process. To that end, those of us who participated in developing it last spring have a list of questions (for the public) that might provide answers to some of the fundamental planning issues.
1. Was the “no” vote last summer a rejection of the financing for water system improvements or simply (as we believe) a rejection of the concept of purchasing bulk water from a private entity?
2. Does the Windermere community wish to have RDEK undertake a review and refinement of the “Third Alternative” concepts developed last summer? Do they want the results of that review presented in a public meeting?
3. If the water system improvements can be planned to accommodate future expansion, what growth capacity is the current population willing to pay for now… 10 years (22 per cent growth), 15 years (35 per cent growth), 25 years (65 per cent growth)?
4. If a financing method can be developed that includes recovering the cost of growth capacity, such as a connection charge for new subdivision lots, is the current population willing to pay for greater growth capacity?
5. Is the Windermere community willing to plan for connections to Terra Vista, Akiskanook, Indian Beach and/or others provided that an equitable cost allocation is developed?
Answers to these questions would seem to be basic for continuing the planning of water system improvements for Windermere.
Doug Anakin, Mike Haltman and Steve Lackey