Concern over a proposed expansion of the Miller Springs water bottling facility in the Sidley area has rural director Vicki Gee seeing this as a good time to initiate a process of community planning in the area.
“There are a lot of people in the area that are really concerned about water availability for the community and also about in essence what seems to be a growing industrial section right in the middle of agricultural land,” Gee said.
“There have been six different parties who have told me they have had declines in their water in the last few years,” Gee continued. “Nobody is saying it is or it isn’t Miller Springs; they are just saying, ‘Hey we need to know what kind situation are we looking at here and is there going to be enough to go into the future?’”
Gee told the Times she is starting community planning for that area. “As part of that process we will look at everyone’s questions about resources and that kind of thing,” she said.
Owners of Miller Springs have submitted an application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to increase the amount of water the bottling plant extracts from the aquifer. Gee said that application had come to the regional district for comment only and that it has since gone to the ALC.
Gee said she’d asked the RDKB planning department what the timeline might be and was told it could take up to three months. “I don’t know whether all this activity around this application will speed it up or slow it down,” said Gee, “but there has been a lot of letter writing.”
Gee acknowledged that not all residents in the area are opposed to the expansion. “But I tend to be hearing from the ones who are opposed.”
Gee said that the area being included in the community planning process at this time is referred to as Rural Bridesville. It stretches from the Rock Creek Canyon Bridge to the RDKB boundary on the west, north as far as Mt. Baldy and along the Rock Creek Bridesville road as far as people have a Bridesville postal address.
She said approval has been given for the project this year. “So that means the planning department and financial resources are available to it.
We need to form a steering committee and that is usually composed of Area Planning Committee (APC) members and the rural director. We will be talking about this at the APC meeting on Monday night.”
When the Times contacted Miller Springs for comment, they were referred to Naturo Investments in Vancouver. People at that office declined to comment, but said the company president is due back in the office on Thursday and will return the call then.
More background on the Miller Springs story will be coming in next weeks’ edition of the Times.