West Bench says no

The West Bench area of Penticton has said no to joining the City of Penticton’s water supply.

Residents voted Saturday in a referendum to decide which way the West Bench Irrigation District would go in dealing with the required repairs and upgrades to the water system.

With 247 voting no, a clear majority were against the proposal. Only 154 said yes and there was one spoiled ballot, but the no vote does not spare residents from a cost increase.

Instead, the district will now have to go ahead on their own.

Faced with aging infrastructure and repairs, Theresa Nolet, Chair of the board for the West Bench Irrigation District, said "We will now hire a an engineer to determine what needs to be done first and get some cost estimates so we can begin budgeting for those things."

One of the first steps they will look into is the lowering of the water intake pipe so the system can access a deeper part of the lake.

"This will help limit the number of turbidity warnings we get in the spring."

It wasn't just cost that led to the no vote however.

Nolet said "There were a number of issues with the proposal from the City of Penticton."

Those issues included West Bench residents paying 10% more than current Penticton water users and no longer having any official representation on the Penticton Irrigation District's board.

"We went back to the city and told them we thought that the 10% and a few other issues were going to create a no vote and they still proceeded." said Nolet.

With a yes vote, residents would also have had to face a levy of $755 a year, pay the cost of the required water meters, and also pay for consumption.

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