One of the last developed areas of the Okanagan still without a municipal sewer system faces a decision to make a change.
Property owners in the Swan Lake Corridor came out to an open house on Tuesday night.
The North Okanagan Regional District (RDNO) provided information about the proposed new municipal sewer system and treatment facility in the affected area north of Vernon.
Petitions have been mailed out to about 230 affected property owners.
The district is concerned about the continued environmental impacts that sewage seepage is having on Swan Lake as well as the restriction on development it’s creating in the area.
“There’s a large environmental benefit by getting those people onto the community sewer, removing them from septic and thereby improving the quality of the environment in the area,” RDNO electoral area ‘B’ director Bob Fleming said. “The second big reason is economic development.”
Without sewer, development has been limited, according to Fleming.
“I think it’s a good thing for the area,” property owner Wayne Klippert said. “It will make for future development.”
“It’s definitely long overdue to protect the environment in Swan Lake,” property owner Wayne Korpaski said. “We’ve got to move ahead with the times.”
Property owner Cathy Montgomery was unsure whether she’d support the project.
“I see the benefits of it but I also see the benefits of not having it,” she said.
The costs to property owners are a big consideration, according to Montgomery.
The district needs to borrow $5.2 million for its share of the project, which would be paid off by property owners hooked into the proposed new system.
The average residential customer in the affected area would pay a new levy of about $1,200 per year over about 20 years, according to Fleming.
That tax could be reduced as newly-subdivided properties are added to the system, he said.
The rest of the costs would be paid by other levels of government: a federal infrastructure grant would provide $24.3 million, the Township of Spallumcheen would pay $1.5 million from reserves and the Okanagan Basin Water Board would provide $5.9 million.
NORD needs approval from at least 50 per cent of property owners who control 50 per cent of the value of the property in the area.
Those in favour must sign the petition that has been mailed to them and return it to the district office by March 15.
Failure to return the petition would qualify as a vote against the project.