Slocan council, August 8: Astonishing water use during hot weather

·6 min read

Residents of Slocan must really love a green lawn.

The Village’s latest water use stats show residents used more than 27 million litres of water in the month of July. Village staff say overnight lawn sprinkling is likely the main culprit.

That works out to about 3,246 litres of water per person per day – about 10 times the average Canadian’s water use. To put it in perspective, that’s about the equivalent of every man, woman and child in Slocan taking 32 baths every day in July.

“We’re so clean,” joked Councillor Madeleine Perriere.

But the problem is real for the Village – and taxpayers. All that water has to be treated, and that costs money. And such water flows shorten the lifespan of the water purification and distribution equipment.

Residents may want to think about that the next time they crank on their outdoor faucets.

“It does seem crazy, and the consumption is something council has identified as a concern,” said Mayor Lunn. “So it’s a combination of yes, we need people to understand the consumption levels during the hot time and during freshet, but the other piece is to ensure our system is working as efficiently as possible.”

The Village is undertaking a leak detection study to catch any waste.

“We have some places probably where the water is leaking,” noted Councillor Perriere. “We cross the river with our waterline, so we don’t know if half the water goes straight into the river and down the valley.”

The prodigious water use has happened even with water restrictions being put in place by the Village. Council instructed staff to put reminders in to the next community newsletter and on the Village Facebook page encouraging people to turn off their water sprinklers overnight.

Harold Street redevelopment a go

The Village has been able to secure a contractor to plan the renovation of Harold Street, the village’s main street downtown. Lawson Engineering has been hired to complete the $75,000 study, which will detail the civil, electrical, and landscape requirements for improving drainage, sidewalks, roads, and accurately map buildings, properties, and infrastructure in the corridor.

From there, council will have a much better idea of the materials and money needed to get the job of beautifying the village’s downtown done. The report on the project is due at the end of November.

Slow down Slocan

Every Village council gets the occasional letter from a resident asking about reducing speed limits inside the community. But when the letter comes from the head of the RCMP detachment that patrols the area, councillors take special notice.

Corporal Tom Gill told council he had been approached by a number of citizens wondering why there wasn’t a 30 km/hr speed limit around recreation areas and playgrounds in the community. Right now, the limit is 40 km/hr.

“From an RCMP perspective and looking at the community as a whole with the emphasis on the use of bikes, walking and electric vehicles, there is a great opportunity to make the Village of Slocan an even more friendly community for cyclists and pedestrians,” he wrote. “Every one of those citizens within the village have stated they would like the speed limit lowered to 30 km/hr.”

The lower limit could apply to the entire village, or just the roads that border the recreation park.

Gill noted that a 30 km/hr limit set in Nakusp has proven popular with locals and tourists alike.

The letter prompted some discussion by councillors, but a decision on the matter will wait until the next meeting, giving council time to ponder the idea and gather more opinions.

Sandy safety

Volleyball isn’t exactly known as a contact sport but a number of people have been injured playing on the Village’s lakeside court this year.

That’s because there’s not enough sand on the court to cushion players when they hit the ground hard.

“Many injuries have occurred because the sand has blown away over the years, and it is around a quarter of the six-inch requirement,” wrote Jon Miller in a request to council. “We had another injury [July 14] and some of the 100+ players have bought new nets, new borders, new sand, and there is talk about taking sand from the beach because the cost is so high.”

Mayor Jessica Lunn noted the Village added a load of sand on the court just last year, and there was some discussion on what might be causing the problem – from wind to water to foot traffic across the court.

Council voted to take money from a discretionary fund to buy a truckload of sand for the courts, and to ask staff to research ways to help prevent the loss of sand from the facility.

Legion security

Work’s finally completed on the restoration of the village’s historic Legion Hall, but a few projects remain. The Legion asked the Village to pay for the installation of security cameras around the facility.

“We bought the system four years ago at a cost of $500.18, but it never got installed at the time and then COVID and renovations happened!” Legion Secretary Carol Barclay wrote to council.

Council voted to pay half the $1,200 installation cost. The money will come from the Village’s share of the RDCK Community Development Fund.

Woodstove exchange

The Village is going to participate in the annual Woodstove Exchange Program. The program, sponsored by the Province and BC Lung Association, offers residents a rebate for removing their old wood heaters and replacing them with modern, efficient, and less-polluting appliances.

The Village will sweeten the pot for the first three people to take up the offer by giving them an extra $100 on top of the $250-500 they get from the program sponsors, depending on the stove being exchanged.

The Village has been taking part in the program since 2009, but last year no one participated. Council instructed staff to promote the program in the Village’s next newsletter to drum up interest.

Rezoning a road

Council is taking steps to fix a 53-year-old oversight that has a Village lot being used as a public roadway.

Council gave first three readings to a bylaw to change a Village lot’s zoning from ‘residential’ to ‘public highway.’

In October 1969, the Village swapped a lot owned by the Pacific Logging Company on Springer Street for another, to allow the town to push Park Avenue right through to Park Street.

But while the swap occurred, someone back then forgot to make it all official.

“It has come to staff’s attention that a portion of the public roadway within the Village was never formally dedicated as a public roadway,” says a staff report. “It was likely an oversight.”

For a half-century, the lot has had a road, water lines, and other infrastructure running across it, despite being legally zoned ‘residential.’

Council voted to apply to have the lot formally designated as a public road. The final adoption of the bylaw should happen in September.

Changed date

A scheduling conflict means the September meeting of council will be two members short, as the mayor and another councillor will be away at the Union of BC Municipalities conference. The council meeting’s been rescheduled from September 12 to a week later, on the 19th, to allow everyone to attend.

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice