COURTENAY, B.C- Businesses that will be losing money from incoming water restrictions should talk to their insurance provider.
That’s the advice from Courtenay mayor Bob Wells, who also serves as the chairperson for the board of the Comox Valley Regional District. Starting at midnight, users of the district’s water system will be placed on Stage 4 restrictions, due to an emergency repair needed for the system’s main line.
All uses of water for any purpose other than drinking, food preparation and personal hygiene will be prohibited from April 12th to April 22nd. The move effects all users of the system, with the majority in Courtenay and Comox.
A list of all business types affected by the restrictions can be found here: https://www.mycomoxvalleynow.com/52683/cvrd-lists-business-types-affected-by-temporary-water-restrictions/
The MyComoxValleyNow.com newsroom reached out to Wells to see if there are any plans by the district to examine the idea of compensation for businesses impacted by the restrictions. Wells described the idea as a “slippery slope”.
“There are some real challenges around that,” said Wells.
“You’d have to look at what were their sales a year ago, versus what they are. It gets quite complicated, when you want to say especially when there is going to be compensation. Our goal is to be providing safe, reliable, clean drinking water year-round, 24/7. In this case, this is just a break in the pipe. The longer we wait to repair it, the larger the hole could potentially come, so we need to get it repaired as soon as possible.”
Wells said that staff at the district had been working hard to get the leak fixed as soon and as safely as possible, and at this point, the community is needed to get behind the project.
“To have staff try to evaluate which businesses might or might not get some kind of compensation, the amount of staff time it would take to do something like that unfortunately is pretty difficult,” said Wells.
“It’s a slippery slope, when we say we’re really looking to all businesses and all residents across the Comox Valley across the Comox Valley to really focus on water conservation for those ten days.”
He mentioned that the district’s water committee would be looking at making sure businesses had plans to cope with disruptions to the water supply, and directed affected businesses to talk to their insurance providers.
“I know with my company in particular, if my building burns down, I’ve got an insurance policy that says they’ll pay for a new location to be paid for until my damaged offices are repaired,” said Wells.
“That’s again, different policies for different industries, again, there are so many different companies for the regional district to know exactly who is doing what, and we’ve had people who look at how much water they use versus other things. Unfortunately, the amount of staff time it would take to come up with a matrix to figure all that out would be immense, and then if the regional district is paying that money back, for reimbursement, that means we have to collect the money as well, and have a reserve there for such an eventuality. It would mean raising taxes, just for reimbursement in case something happens to businesses.”
He indicated that he would be checking what options affected businesses might have, but conceded that businesses should not expect any help from the district with the costs from the disruption.
“So far, my conversations with staff and the couple of insurance places I’ve talked to, have been really focused on companies having their own contingency plans,” said Wells.
“That’s what staff have been relaying to people. If they can collect water ahead of time, for their usage, that would be the biggest benefit at this point.”
A list of restrictions and exceptions can be found below:
-Watering lawns, gardens, plants and trees in any manner or by any means, including watering by hand
-Filling or topping off or operating residential or commercial pools, hot tubs, ponds or fountains
-Operating local government outdoor water parks and pools
-Washing vehicles, boats or outdoor surfaces
-Irrigating golf courses and other public and/or school district property
-Where reasonably possible, swimming pools, hot tubs, fountains and ponds should be drained for health and safety purposes and such water used for irrigation.
-No new lawn permit shall be issued during Stage 4, and no new lawn permit, whenever issued, shall be valid during Stage 4.
They also carried a list of exceptions, which included the following:
-Using water for health and safety reasons is permitted.
-Water use is permitted for firefighting.
-Local government watermain and hydrant maintenance is permitted, but only for unscheduled safety or public health reasons.
-Water use is permitted for farm and agricultural operations, but only for livestock drinking purposes.
-Cleaning outdoor surfaces is only authorized when required by law to comply with health or safety regulations, or to comply with an order of a regulatory authority having jurisdiction, such as WorkSafeBC or a public health inspector.
-Irrigating local government all-weather playing fields is permitted.
-Spot cleaning of vehicles and boats with a sponge and bucket for health and safety reasons (windows, lights, license plates, etc.) is permitted.
The district government, as well as the municipal administration of Courtenay and Comox, will be taking steps to reduce water consumption by suspending “non-emergency” operational work, such as road sweeping, hydrant maintenance, sewer flushing, and all irrigation, including playing fields.
“The CVRD’s recreation facilities will remain open,” read the district website.
“The water in the pools and hot tubs are recirculated, and do not require draining and refilling.”
The district’s recreation department will only be hosing their pool decks and other surfaces when there are biohazards present, and are encouraging users to take shorter showers. The steam room will also be closed for the duration of the Stage 4 restrictions.
As for the Sports Centre, Arena 1 will be closed for the duration of the restrictions, and Arena 2 will be open with limited ice times. The exhibition grounds will not have dust control on riding rings, and there will be no field watering.