Residents want to stop construction of Well 6 pumping station in Gibsons

With multiple calls for a ‘stop work order’ on the Shaft 6 pump station project during a March 8 community consultation, residents of Gibsons’ Oceanmount Boulevard appear to share little common ground with the city on plans to build this facility in their neighborhood. .

City staff invited area residents to the online meeting via a letter dated March 3. The event was organized at the behest of the council, after it approved the award of a contract to build the 40ft by 10ft pumphouse within five feet of the property lines of single family residences.

Approval to spend $1.16 million on infrastructure to improve the city’s water system was granted at the February 15 council meeting, despite concerns expressed by resident Phil Dubrulle about the lack consultation with people living near the site. Council members expressed disappointment at the oversight, but accepted staff’s recommendation to go ahead with construction in March, to ensure the new shaft could come online this summer. They requested that a verification meeting be held to hear the concerns and suggestions of project neighbors on integrating the pump station into their area.

The host of the consultation event, City Engineering Manager Dave Newman, faced a barrage of criticism over a lack of communication with the public about the project. He apologized for not responding to all emails received, noted that the volume was huge, with 125 emails received at his direct address in one day, as well as many other email accounts from the town.

Several of the approximately 20 residents attending the meeting refused to accept high volume as the reason for a lack of responsiveness. Suggestions were made that Newman needed to “wake up earlier” or “try harder” to consult effectively.

A more negative reaction from attendees followed Newman’s attempt to limit questions or comments from residents during the event.

“What concerns us is the lack of meaningful process and consultation. Oceanmount residents want a delay until there is proper consultation…we want the city to issue a stop work order and review the design phase,” Dubrulle said. He also said that if the city is not ready to cooperate, a group of about 20 residents is ready to engage in a legal challenge to the project.

He said the city did not follow guidelines or policies and should postpone the project until proper consultation is undertaken. Commenting on the scheduling of the consultation meeting after the decision on the tender for the project had already been taken, he said, “It’s a bit too late. The cart is about a country mile ahead of the horse.

Concerns raised at the meeting by residents included the impact of noise and vibration from pump station equipment on their homes. A question about relocating the equipment to an underground bunker or whether two small pumping stations could be built rather than one large one was asked. Suggestions were also made that the city consider changing the power source for the backup generator from diesel to solar or natural gas.

During the meeting, Newman issued an apology for his initial public comments when planning the project that the pumphouse would be “about the size of a garden shed”. He said he had misspoken and should have used the term “accessory building rather than garden shed”.

“The Board wants to consult, and if there was any failure (on this project), that’s up to me,” Newman said at the end of the hour-and-a-half meeting. He noted that a report on the event would be discussed at a future Council meeting. Com. Annemarie De Andrade and David Croal were among the online meeting audience.

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