Sooke council backs water service extension

Whether it gets the go-ahead rests with the CRD’s Juan de Fuca Water Distribution Commission

District of Sooke council expressed support last week to hook up about 75 properties in the north end of Otter Point Road to municipal water.

Whether that gets the go-ahead rests with the Capital Regional District’s Juan de Fuca Water Distribution Commission.

The area extends from the municipal boundary on Otter Point Road to an area including Pascoe and Sellars roads. The water line currently ends 700 metres from the Sooke boundary line.

Council backed a motion from Coun. Kerrie Reay which asks the commission to extend its Otter Point water line to the municipal boundary and service all homes on route. Funding for the project would come the commission’s development cost charge fund.

Three years ago an Otter Point Road resident approached district council to subdivide his property to allow for another house. Area neighbours opposed the plan due to critically low levels of water in the aquifer.

Council at the time promised to look into the water shortage, but it appears the project “fell off the radar,” Reay said.

“It’s always stuck with me because I don’t know if we ever did anything, even if there was direction made to staff to specifically do that.”

The idea was resurrected last fall when the CRD created a policy where people of rural areas are able to access water no matter where they live.

There are several areas in the District of Sooke that rely on wells. The official community plan calls for municipal water for the entire community, but Reay pointed out the municipality is only 16 years old and needs to develop its infrastructure.

“In the District of Sooke, everybody wants water and I think we have to do it in stages. There is just this tiny piece at the very north end of the district that could be a win-win scenario,” Reay said.

Sooke fire officials said the problem is compounded when it comes to fire protection.   The area was considered a “high risk” by the Canadian Institute of Underwriters in a 2010 report citing an “inadequate water supply.”

There are no hydrants on Otter Point Road past the trailer park, and if a fire occurs, firefighters tank water to the site by tenders, said Fire Chief Steve Sorensen.

“Anytime we can get hydrants in and not have to truck water in it’s a lot easier for us.”

Water commission chair Bob Gramigna is aware of Sooke’s request and expects it to go before the commission Jan. 5.

“Certainly if Sooke has a matter which they would like to bring before the water commission, I would guarantee they will have the opportunity to present it,” he said.