Runoff woes still a concern

One of the top-of-mind issues in Naramata this election season is water runoff woes many hillside residents have experienced over the past two years.

Many property owners were hit hard during the spring and dozens in the small community attended a forum to meet with officials, looking for some common ground. Most concerned residents, if not all, point to two new subdivisions being built above the KVR trail as the culprit, and two lawsuits have been filed by homeowners.

Area director Karla Kozakevich, who is seeking a third term in this month's election, acknowledged rural areas don't get to say yes or no to subdivisions and that the Provincial Approval Officer gives final approval of applications. But she said the regional district can have influence.

"We are hoping, based on the information and feedback that we've provided to the (PAO), that he will look more closely at the drainage, as well as what's below," Kozakevich said.

"I put a lot of pressure on the Ministry of Transportation to look into these issues... They've hired a hydrogeologist to review the drainage system from the development and the surrounding area, to see if something hasn't been done correctly or what needs to be done."

Tim Hodgkinson, the only other candidate for the Area E director role, didn't give specifics to dealing with the issue but said he'd be "absolutely championing the cause of any residents in the area.

"With the water runoff, I think that was something we should've seen coming, and we should've done what we could've to avoid it happening in the first place," he said. "Having said that, it having happened, we need to support our residents."

Hodgkinson is seeking election in Area E for the first time. He previously ran for council in 2014 for the City of Penticton and earned 1,592 votes. He said his biggest concern is dealing with "explosive growth" that he says Naramata is experiencing.

"Infrastructure development needs to be focused on a little bit more. There is so much more literal traffic in the area, more people, more businesses, all the same really," he said, stumbling through the answer.

"I'd like to see more infrastructure in the sense of road maintenance, actually supporting these new developments, because these new developments bring in more people with them. So we need to shore up."

He went on to say that priorities need to be put on snow removal and supporting a second firehall for the local department (which the regional district already applied for in early 2017).

Kozakevich said among her top priorities are replacing the aging drinking water pipes, continuing to work on local park projects and to review and update the Official Community Plan.

"We have about $20 million dollars of pipework still to go to get the system up to speed. We're going to do an asset management plan to see where the priority areas are... and of course we want to try and secure federal and provincial grants to do this work," she said.

She said Naramata received more than $3.8 million in grants last year to do pipework and said they were provided another $700,000 in grants for their parks, mainly spent on Spirit Park.

She added updating the OCP for Area E is overdue. "We sort of fall in sequence as to who's next in line based on the age of the (OCP)." She said Area E is currently in line behind areas A and C, but said she's putting in a request to "jump in line" in the possibility that those areas aren't yet ready to review their plans.

The municipal election in B.C. is on Oct. 20.

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