THE WEEK: Water supplies are good, fireworks are bad and where Daniel Arbour lives

Oct 26, 2022 | Commentary, Latest Feature

By George Le Masurier

Vancouver Island has experienced record-high temperatures this fall and record-low amounts of rainfall. Even the Mojave Desert in California has received more precipitation than the Island.

And with rising temperatures, water consumption and evaporation have increased all over the world, draining water supplies from California to Europe to the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia down to dangerously low levels.

The Comox Valley has not been immune. According to Kris La Rose, the senior manager of water and wastewater services at the regional district, the Comox Lake reservoir is very low at the moment, particularly so given the wet spring that seeped into mid-July.

And there has been little replenishment since creating drought conditions. Although, two atmospheric rivers predicted to head our way this week may dump double-digit millimeters of rain.

But throughout the recent extended drought, La Rose says water supplies available to the Comox Valley system were never threatened.

“By Hydro manages the reservoir and prioritizes fish flows and power generation, but with the newly installed lake intake being well below the BC Hydro dam sill (the lowest point at which water can still flow down the Puntledge River), the community water system is no longer threatened by drought conditions,” he told Decafnation.

That’s good news. An important benefit from the $126 million upgrades and new water treatment plant that opened a year ago.

However, the water system’s licenses and water use agreements with BC Hydro still require the regional district to impose higher level water restrictions as Hydro reduces flow down the river. That was the reason behind shifting to stage 3 water restrictions in early October. Hydro concluded they needed to reduce flows to make it through to the start of fall rains.

So, if the weather forecast is accurate, and we get around up to 50mm over the next 72 hours, all this talk and worry about droughts and water supplies will fade into the background. At least until drought conditions occur again next summer.



In just a few days, Halloween festivities will take place all across the Comox Valley. Kids will be trick or treating, adults will be dressing up for costume parties and some people will set off fireworks, annoying neighbors and frightening family pets and wildlife. And potentially starting fires.

This year, anyone igniting fireworks will being do so in defiance of an Island-wide ban imposed by the BC Wildfire Service.

Following directives from the Wildfire Service, the Comox Valley Regional District and the Village of Cumberland have banned the use of fireworks and have not issued any fireworks permits. Individual use of fireworks in Courtenay and Comox are banned.

In a normal year, however, the regional district has issued many permits for the use of legal fireworks. In 2019, it granted 76 permits; 117 in 2020 and 72 in 2021.

Given all the personal and community dangers associated with fireworks, is it time for a Valley-wide ban on individual fireworks



Thanks to an alert reader, Decafnation must clarify an oversight in our 2022 local government election coverage. Throughout the recent campaign, we were critical of the trend toward candidates living in one jurisdiction and seeking elected office in another.

While we had checked the residence of many new candidates, we did not check the nomination papers of Area A incumbent Director Daniel Arbour. We assumed he was still living full-time with his wife and family at their Hornby Island home.

But a reader’s comment to our last election commentary told us otherwise. So we checked.

Arbour listed two addresses on his nomination papers this year, one for the family home on Hornby and a second address on Ryan Road in Area B. Due to family matters, Arbour has regularly split his time between the Hornby and in-town residences over the past year.

The Arbours purchased a four-bedroom mobile unit in the Courtenay area to facilitate an easier daily commute for their children, who were entering high school at G.P. Vanier. It’s not uncommon for Island residents to lessen the burden of a long two-ferry commute with secondary accommodations on the Big Island.

Current School District 71 Trustee Sheila McDonnell, who served as board chair last year, told Decafnation that she has employed the same strategy.

“In my own case, we had a second home in Courtenay from about 2006 when it became clear that my daughter would not be able to complete Grade 10-12 either doing distance ed on her own or commuting,” she said. “ We had a tenant in the main part of our house, but retained an addition as a minimum base for weekends and summer use.”

McDonnell ran for the Board of Education position a few years later, in a 2010 by-election. She’d had time to be on the Parent Advisory Council at Lake Trail where my son went, and then on the District PAC.

“I do not think I would have been able to do the job commuting from Hornby for meetings – staying in hotels would have been very onerous and time away from the family would have been very difficult,” she said. “The temporary migration to town is something a lot of families do for a few years in various permutations. We often put up friends of all ages at our (in-town) place.”









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