Property owners in the Swan Lake Corridor, an area along Highway 97 north of Vernon, are being asked if they are willing to support a $5.2-million loan to get sewer service.
Despite being heavily developed, the area doesn’t have a community sewer system.
Instead, homes and businesses have septic systems or holding tanks, which must be pumped out. The process can be costly, noisy and sometimes smelly.
“It is not particularly conducive to development,” noted the regional district area director Bob Fleming.
The North Okanagan Regional District wants to change that situation. It has partnered with the Township of Spallumcheen and the Okanagan Indian Band on a proposal to install a sewer system for the area.
The hope is that it will be better for business and the environment.
“(The Swan Lake Corridor) is immediately adjacent to Swan Lake,” said Fleming. “One of the key factors in this whole program is to try to improve the environment — reduce the environmental impact of human waste going into the lake.”
Because Swan Lake is upstream from Okanagan Lake, Fleming expects a sewer system to have a positive impact on the whole region.
“It feeds directly into Okanagan Lake so it directly affects the entire Okanagan basin,” Fleming said.
“I think cleaning up Swan Lake helps everybody.”
However, there’s a significant prices tag.
The total project is expected to cost $36.9 million,a lot of it will be funded through grants.
However, the Regional District of North Okanagan plans to pay for its $5.2 million share through borrowing.
If the project goes ahead, that 20-year loan will be paid off by residents and businesses in the regional district using the sewer.
Over the next two months the impacted properties will be asked, through a petition process, if they are willing to pay for the sewer.
“It strictly applies to those people that actually have property in the service area and no body who is un-serviced will be asked to be paying,” Fleming said.
If property owners support the loan and the grants are approved, construction could start next year.
To get approval the regional district will need to have signed petitions from more than half of the properties involved and those supporters must also make up more than half of the tax roll value for the area.
A open house on the project is planned for January 22 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Vernon Christian School on Pleasant Valley Road.