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Mayor Ed's Perspective

the podcast

An introspective and comprehensive look into the social fabric woven throughout the community of Parksville, BC. Located in central Vancouver Island.

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Say your Say

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Topic: Affordable Housing

 

Affordable housing is a complicated subject with many issues that directly affect the outcome.

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https://open.spotify.com/episode/1AHPSQzBmz5Vr64l8Fwnzx


Blog transcript below: 

Dave Graham
Welcome to Ed's perspective. It's a look at life in Parksville. According to the personal views of Ed Mayne, the Mayor of Parksville. And I'm Dave Graham. Mr. Mayor, you tell me you've been getting questions from people concerned about climate change. They're worried that as the community grows, there won't be enough water. So what do you tell them?

Ed Mayne
First thing I tell them is, thank you for being concerned about our environment. And thank you for being concerned about climate change. Water is the most important commodity that we have. And it needs to be protected in every way that we possibly can. The City of Parksville has gone a long ways to facilitating that, I'm going to take you back a little bit and explain the history of water and where it comes from, because it's important to understand, we get our water sources, from two places, we have a wellfield, just at the end of Despard. And it gets his water from the aquifer. That's one source and up until the treatment plant was up and running. 53% of our water came from the wealth fields, then we had the river and the river was okay for some of our water consumption, not near as much as what most people think. But because when the water was flowing down the river in the rainy season, it was coming too fast and too high. And it was creating a lot of turbidity. And when the turbidity was there, because we weren't filtering our water, we couldn't use it. So it was virtually of no value whatsoever in November, December, January, February. And then in the summertime, again, the water levels were low. And so the availability of water was not as it was needed, then, since we put the treatment plant in first off, it should be noted that we use between 2.3 and 2.4 million cubic meters of water a year in the city of Parksville. And over and above that the Regional District of Nanaimo, for parts of Electoral Area E, they use another 30% of the water for their area. So we have that water coming down. Now as it sits, we only draw 23% of the water from our aquifer, and we draw the other 77% from the river. And we can do that because now we can take water from the river for the whole season. So that makes a huge difference in what we're doing.

Dave Graham
How does drawing that much water from the river impact the environment?

Ed Mayne
That's a really good question. And there was an awful lot of time, effort and consideration made in engineering done to make sure it had virtually no effect on the environment, you know, we have a small while small, relatively small intake from the river. And that's what we have with water levels have to be kept up above a certain level in order to use the intake from from the river. But other than that there, there virtually isn't any way any of the riverbed silt that comes flowing down the river, what happens is it's filtered out, and then it's put right back into a pile and then we remove the silt at that time. So it has no effect on virtually no effect on the environment.


Dave Graham
$44 million spent and that is a record setting amount for a personal expenditure. No?

Ed Mayne
It is the largest infrastructure project that the city has ever done, and well worthwhile, I might add. And over and above that, it probably will stay the largest for quite some time. Unless we build a swimming pool in the future then that that would take us over the 44 million. But right now, yes, it's the largest one.

Dave Graham
Let's talk a little bit about capacity for this new treatment plant in terms of what it can handle now versus its ability to expand in the future.

Ed Mayne
Very interesting question in the fact that the plant was designed originally, to handle 40,000 population. That was the our OCP, our Official Community Plan suggested that in the future way out, and in the future, that's where the population of Parksville could potentially grow to. And so they built this plant and they built all of the parameters around it to handle that population. There has been some extenuating circumstances that have come up since then things like climate change and you know, environmental changes that have happened that may have affected that to some extent, but we're a long ways away from getting anywhere near the capacity of this. You think about it, we were drawing 53% of our water from the aquifer. And now we're drawing 23% of the water From the aquifer, that 600,000 cubic meters a year, less water were taken from our aquifer. So we still have that as a backup if we ever needed it, which hopefully we never will, but it's there. And so that's an important part as well to take into consideration,

Dave Graham
Do you think we need to establish more reservoir capacity?

Ed Mayne
That's something that's been tossed around in the last little while, it's an interesting proposition. I'm going to maintain a very open mind on this, because I don't know what I don't know, on this. But the reality is, I look at it and I say, tell me what it's going to cost buy up land and flood it so that we have these large reservoirs up on the side of Aerosmith, or is it cheaper, and may be more effective to run pipeline? Right from it behind the Aerosmith dam? Run a pipeline right down to the treatment plant? I don't know the answer to that. But that's one of the solutions with the other solution might be What's matter with decellularization. A lot of countries in the world live off desalinated water. Maybe that's another possible. I don't know what that costs at this point. But at least we could have that conversation and compare everything before we start flooding land, I'd rather keep the real estate.

Dave Graham
Okay, we'll wrap it up with a question that I'm sure you've heard once or twice before, what was this wonderful new treatment plant and all of its capacity? Why do we still have to face restrictions?

Ed Mayne
It's a really good question is and this probably the question that I get asked the most pertaining to water? Why did you spend $44 million and still have water restrictions? Well, there's a number of reasons for it. First off from an environmental conservation purposes, why do we want to be wasting water when we don't need to be if we can hold it back with restrictions? Let's hold it back in those summers, we all know how dry it gets in the summertime. Why do we want to make the problem even worse, by taking water out of the system, let's just leave it where it is. And restrict what we're using it an interesting fact was 11 years ago, when we put in the graduated water billing system, where you paid more if you used higher than the normal amounts of water. We were just one of the biggest users per capita of water in the world at that point in time. And everybody say, oh, no, that's not possible. Trust me, it was possible. I was the mayor at the time. And I know that we had those conversations. That's what instigated the graduated billing systems. And secondly, the other thing is, is if we start using too much water, the river can only bring down so much water in the summertime, okay, because we've all walked down to the river bank. And for all intents and purposes, you could walk across Englishman River with one step, because it's so low, the water comes from behind the Aerosmith dam. And for every gallon of water, we take out for our purposes, for the city's purposes, we have to put two more gallons in for Department of Fisheries and Oceans to increase the level for fish, and so on. Dave we have to be environmentally conscious about what we use, and especially on such an important commodity is water. So let's conserve our water wherever we can. And this is a good opportunity. The rest of the island is on, you know, stage three or stage four water conservation. We should be following that guideline as well. In fact, last year when the drought was so large, the rest of the island was at stage four. And we stayed at stage three, because we were able to do that and it was working for us. So you know, it proves that we've got the water capacity if we need it.

Dave Graham
Well, that's our time for this edition of Ed's perspective with Parksville. Mayor Ed Mayne, and I'm Dave Graham. We hope you'll join us again. Thanks for listening!

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