Some parts of the region are currently under Stage 4 water restrictions, and last year the regional district was forced to declare a state of local emergency that lasted into December amid “unprecedented” draw down on the Chapman reservoir system, which supplies 90 per cent of the Sechelt area.
Last year’s water restrictions weren’t lifted until February 2023.
The First Nation held a water summit in May with the regional district, District of Sechelt and Town of Gibsons, which it said “cemented the understanding that the crisis must be addressed, and all community leaders are seeking a solution quickly.”
The proposed new reservoir would be established at an existing mine site on the First Nation’s land, which it said would limit any new environmental impacts.
The reservoir would be used to capture water during the rainy months and only be tapped during the dry summer and fall seasons.
The nation said work could begin on the project immediately, if funded, with some water available by next summer.
“What was once a water challenge is now a water crisis, causing anxiety and fear in our members and residents of the Sunshine Coast,” Ihe hiwus (Chief) Leonra Joe said in a media release.
“This is more of a human issue than a business initiative, and we must address it now; the new reservoir is an essential part of the solution.”
Sechelt Mayor John Henderson called the proposal “practical and attainable,” and urged the province to back the “vitally important” expansion of the region’s water supply infrastructure.
Gibsons Mayor Silas White called the proposal a “tremendous opportunity,” adding the region needed “tangible and immediate solutions” to its water woes.
The regional district is also backing the proposal.
The shishalh First Nation said it and local community leaders were meeting with the province and federal government about the plan, and “waiting for confirmation of funding support so that the reservoir can be built immediately.”