Once again, Abbotsford politicians are diving into the subject of Abbotsford’s water supply.
It was a key issue in former mayor George Peary’s defeat in the polls last fall – along with the Stave Lake P3 water referendum.
In the wake of a deficit-running arena project and the controversial Heat hockey deal, the majority of voters weren’t ready to believe a public/private water supply partnership was the wisest choice, or the need as dire, as city hall was maintaining.
Last year, the driving influence was that of AECOM engineers, authors of the 2010 Water Master Plan, which set 2016 as the worst case scenario of Abbotsford potentially exceeding its water supply capacity.
That plan recommended a $300-million Stave Lake water source as the solution to increased population and consumption over the next 25 years and perhaps beyond.
However, according to a new staff report, the new mayor and council have more time – until 2020 – to decide and provide a water supply solution.
Skeptics will likely say the extension is more a matter of political will, but it seems a combination of reduced consumption and slower growth projections have bought the city time.
The report provides a number of options, which were ostensibly considered and rejected by AECOM in favour of the long-term Stave plan.
Ultimately, the basic factors remain.
The city does need a new water supply to meet future demands.
Does council give weary taxpayers a break, and proceed with a smaller-scale project, even though it will mean planning another water project in the near future?
Four years may be but a blink in the life of a city, but it is a welcome deadline extension.
It’s additional time for city hall – and the public – to examine, consider, and hopefully, get it right.