Elected officials left the tap open just a bit for the proponent of a planned residential development at Twin Lakes.
The owner of the Twin Lakes Golf Course has been working for years to get the necessary approvals to put in a new 208-unit subdivision, but has run into stiff opposition over issues related to water supply. The area is supplied by an aquifer, but its ability to serve new and existing area residents is subject to debate.
On Thursday, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen considered a bylaw variance application to reduce the maximum amount of water it requires be available for homes from 8,000 litres per day to 1,900.
Twin Lakes Golf Course owner Suki Sekhon said the present requirement is unrealistic and noted that his company doesn’t have any incentive to be greedy with the water supply.
‘We don’t want to run out of water because we’re going to be the biggest losers,” he said.
“We’re on the same page as everybody else sitting here.”
Everybody else was about 20 Twin Lakes residents who turned out to hear Coral Brown try to persuade the RDOS board not to allow the variance application.
“There needs to be more data,” Brown said, particularly around existing demand on the aquifer, which she said is already overburdened.
“We don’t have the estimate of what’s going out,” she continued, because most of the 250 homes there are on individual wells.
Brown also presented a 185-name petition to the board urging a moratorium on development.
Sekhon said an interim report from a new study on the Twin Lakes water supply could be ready as early as November, at which time the board could make a better decision on his variance application.
He also noted the proposed development would be xeriscaped and designed to use as little water as possible, plus new community water and sewer systems would be built and turned over to the RDOS. Creation of a water storage pond on the golf course is also an option.
Director Tom Siddon said the developer gave a “well-presented argument,” but, “I think you have to win the neighbourhood over.”
The representative for Kaleden-Okanagan Falls also noted that if the RDOS does take ownership of new water and sewer systems, it would also take on the risk of running them.
Director Michael Brydon said Sekhon has a “legitimate” case, but, “the timing is horrible.”
Brydon, who represents the West Bench, noted the B.C. government is in the process drafting new legislation related to the use of groundwater, which could make anything the RDOS decides a moot point.
RDOS rural directors voted 6-2 to defer the variance application until the interim water-supply report is complete, with Directors Angelique Wood and Allan Patton opposed. Patton argued earlier that the application should be denied outright.