Kemp Lake residents will have to wait another year until they get another shot at getting hooked up to the Capital Regional District’s water system, after a recent federal grant was denied.
The grant was sent along with two others in the CRD, East Sooke (Anderson Cove) for piped water access and Port Renfrew for replacement of an old water main.
Port Renfrew was the only one to get approved, and is due to receive $488,103 from the federal government’s clean water and wastewater fund.
If approved, the Kemp Lake grant would have provided the longstanding project of connecting Kemp Lake to the CRD water system, a project that began back in 2005.
“We were saddened … we’ve been waiting for years for this,” said Kevan Brehart, chair, Kemp Lake Waterworks District, adding this was the second time Kemp Lake was on the list for a grant, but was denied.
“Last year, the government’s response to the application was that they simply ran out of money. They suggested we reapply, so we applied again for the next round. At this point our only reaction was disappointment.”
Juan de Fuca Area director Mike Hicks said that while he was happy for Port Renfrew receiving the funds, he was also disheartened by the news, given the uphill battle to get piped water to Kemp Lake residents.
“The government said they’ll put hundreds of millions towards water systems in Canada, and I thought Kemp Lake would be number 1 in Mr. (Justin) Trudeau’s eyes, but it obviously wasn’t,” Hicks said, adding that each grant is a big undertaking, costing thousands of dollars of staff time just to prepare the application.
Still, he’s not giving up, and hopes for better luck next time.
“All we can do is apply for grants.”
Hicks pointed out that Island Health was equally on board with a grant to help get piped water into the Kemp Lake community, as they “identified this as a place where they want improvements.”
On its website, Island Health rates the Kemp Lake water quality as “moderate” as some issues related to the operation of the water system were identified.
The news equally surprised Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke MP Randall Garrison, who wrote a letter of support along with the application.
“I’m quite stunned by this one, I thought it would be funded. I’ll do my best to find out and to advocate with the minister if we can still get it funded somehow,” he said, adding that with all the money being promised for infrastructure by the federal government, this was an “easy one.”
“We’ve never had any problems getting federal funding in my riding, we’ve got lots, so I don’t know why they wouldn’t do this one. I’ll do my best to find out and try to persuade them that it’s a bad decision.”