Plans for a new water storage reservoir for the Crofton area were given a green light by North Cowichan’s council on Dec. 4.
Council decided to earmark $700,000 from the $1.3-million in grant money the municipality received this year as a one-time top up to its Federal Gas Tax Funds toward the approximately $1-million reservoir.
The new reservoir is intended to better service the upper levels of Crofton and the recently approved development project known as “The Commons at Osborne Bay”.
The development project, that could see up to 230 new housing units built, was approved by council last year, even though studies showed that the existing water system for the area that utilizes a reservoir at the east end of Chilco Road could not provide enough water for fire protection to meet current standards if the project proceeded.
Regardless, the project, which was proposed by developer Ron King, was approved with two conditions relevant to water supply.
The first was that the developer provide North Cowichan with a $300,000 cash bond for a potential funding application in the future for a new reservoir.
The second condition was that the developer restrict building to 45 homes to begin with, and only if those homes were constructed with residential sprinkler systems.
The developer complied with both requirements, but has not yet proceeded with the project.
A staff report from David Conway, North Cowichan’s director of engineering, said that the municipality and the developer have not found a suitable grant to help cover the costs of a new reservoir, estimated to cost $2.2 million.
“But the developer has been working on conceptual designs in order to refine the construction costs of the reservoir,” Conway said.
“The developer’s recent estimate for the…reservoir in bolted steel is about $1 million.”
Conway said staff suggested to the developer that there was staff support to fund $500,000 towards a new reservoir on the provision that the developer provide a turn-key project to North Cowichan.
That amount was raised to $700,000 in order to add a fixed generator that was not included in the original design.
Council also included a termination clause in its agreement for the reservoir that states the agreement will be terminated immediately, with terms null and void, if construction has not substantially started within 24 months.
Conway said the developer has indicated that he has a prominent Vancouver Island-based company ready to take on the project and build the reservoir if North Cowichan provides its share of the funding.
Conway’s report states that building the reservoir will have a number of advantages.
They include an increase in water security for Crofton and the South End utilities, upgraded fire protection, the ability to leverage the developer’s contribution to the project, the encouragement of development in Crofton by removing fire-flow issues and the preservation of the funding available for other water utility capital projects in Crofton.