Paradise Valley residents want to have input into the management of their area’s aquifer if what they’re calling “one of the largest private commercial groundwater extractions in B.C.” gets the go-ahead.
On Monday (Dec. 16), the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) board agreed to stand behind a request from the Paradise Valley Community Association (PVCA) to the provincial government related to the extraction of water from the valley that’s proposed by backers of the four-season Garibaldi at Squamish (GAS) resort development.
In a letter to the board sent by PVCA member Gary Turner, the group asks the board to lobby the government to apply pending changes to the B.C. Water Act to the GAS project, if it’s approved.
The aquifer has been identified as “highly vulnerable to contamination,” the letter states. “So little is known about the aquifer, and facing the unknown impacts of climate change and receding glaciers, a failure to diligently manage this… groundwater system under the new regulations and is not an option,” the letter states, adding, “We all share a fiduciary responsibility to steward critical water resources in the best interests of future generations.”
Local residents want to be part of a “collaborative watershed management partnership,” the letter states.
The PVCA wants the provincial government to adopt user fees for private commercial groundwater extractions such as the one proposed for GAS. Money from such fees could be used to fund “watershed collaborative partnerships” across the province, the letter said.
Board chair Patricia Heintzman, a Paradise Valley resident, said she found the PVCA requests reasonable and prudent.
“There hasn’t been a lot of work done about impacts of large projects on aquifers and I think a collaborative approach to studying and monitoring those impacts is a good idea,” she told The Chief. “I think what Paradise Valley is asking is that we make sure we’re collaborating and evaluating those impacts.”
A public open house to provide input and answer questions about the GAS environmental assessment was scheduled on Wednesday (Dec. 18). Results of that meeting were unavailable at press time. The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office is seeking input on the environmental impacts through Jan. 7. For information, visit www.eao.bc.ca.
The board voted to approve a budget committee recommendation giving electoral area directors a pay hike of $2,000 for their work in the year ahead. That means the directors will receive a base pay of $12,000 a year. The board also supported a recommendation to give permanent full-time SLRD staff members an extra $500 a year to be spent on a gym membership, regular yoga sessions or other fitness initiative.
“We realize how much work and how much dedication it takes to be an electoral area director,” Heintzman said, adding that the raise doesn’t fully acknowledge the amount of work the area directors do.
Heintzman will remain as chair of the SLRD board until at least late 2014. In board elections that occurred on Monday, Heintzman was acclaimed as chair for the coming year. Whistler Coun. Jack Crompton was re-elected vice-chair, edging Area C director Susie Gimse five votes to four.
— With Glacier Media files