George Vanderwolf gave an effective, easy-to-understand presentation last week at the Lillooet Watershed Planning Committee’s meeting on a gravity-fed water option. He is a well-known, respected resident and the Watershed Committee could not have selected a better representative to make its case.
We lack the technical knowledge to judge the merits of the option presented by the Watershed Committee. We do know the District of Lillooet’s plan has been prepared/reviewed and/or approved by an engineering firm which designs community water systems, Interior Health, the Union of BC Municipalities and the federal and provincial governments. The plan presented by the Watershed Planning Committee has not been subjected to that same scrutiny, nor are we certain it would qualify for the unprecedented $10 million in water project funding already secured by the District of Lillooet.
It appeared last week that Mr. Vanderwolf was preaching to the converted, to the constituency that has always supported the gravity option.
However, we suspect that anyone who walked into that meeting who had an open mind and was seeking more information would certainly leave with new questions and probably some doubts about whether the District conducted a proper analysis of the feasibility of the gravity-fed water option.
The District believes it has selected the best option to guarantee a safe and sustainable water supply for our community. But once again, it has done a poor job of communicating with Lillooet residents.
Did council and administration decide that the results of the last election vindicated their position on water? Did they think that, having secured approval from all the appropriate agencies, they no longer needed to keep the community updated? With all the communication resources at its disposal, the District has still not explained to the community as a whole whether it did an in-depth examination of the gravity-fed alternative and on what basis it rejected that option.
We believe the District is obliged to provide that explanation now – not only to answer taxpayers’ concerns, but to ensure Lillooet’s already frayed civic fabric is not torn again.