After years of delays, frustration and uncertainty, the future now seems clear for residents of the West Bench.
West Bench residents have voted 85 per cent in favour of a deal that will see the community tap into the City of Penticton’s water supply.
Saturday’s referendum opens the door to a $9.8 million upgrade to the community’s water supply. Grants will cover about $5.7 million of the cost, with the remainder being borrowed by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen. West Bench residents will then pay 22 cents per cubic metre for their water, as well as an up-front payment of $3.6 million to the city, which will be covered by a provincial grant.
Buying water from the city solves the water quality problem the RDOS inherited when it took over the West Bench Irrigation District last summer. The future of the community’s water supply has been a long-standing issue for residents of the West Bench, who shot down a proposal in 2010 to purchase filtered water from Penticton because they saw it as too costly.
The deal will carry higher costs for residents of the West Bench, but the benefits it brings is well worth the price.
A dependable water source is vital for the future growth of the community and the health of its residents. The current West Bench water system is obsolete and does not meet current health requirements. It was clear something needed to be done, and the agreement ratified in Saturday’s referendum is one that will serve the residents of West Bench well into the future.
The increased cost that deal will carry is a drop in the bucket when compared with the advantages a reliable water supply will bring.