Fencing has already been erected around White Rock’s Merklin Reservoir. (City of White Rock image)

Fencing at White Rock water sites ‘a matter of security’

Councillor says $250,000 for Oxford plant perimeter an ‘excessive’ spend

White Rock’s utility manager says measures to ensure the city’s water facilities are secure are overdue and well worth the cost.

“By the time you have an alarm, the damage is already done,” Dr. Saad Jasim told council Monday, during discussion of a $250,000 contract award recommended by staff for fencing of the Oxford Street facility.

“If somebody… was able to break into the well, not everything has alarm in it, and put something in a well – and I shouldn’t say these things – but it’s our reality.

“You need one date, something to happen. It could cost lives, and that’s why – there is no replacement to life lost and there is no cost of money to replace it.”

Jasim made the comments in response to a question from Coun. Christopher Trevelyan, who asked if the manager felt fencing at the site, which stretches from Oxford Street to Everall Street, in the 1400-block, was necessary.

READ MORE: White Rock water plant operational by month’s end

Trevelyan’s question followed doubts expressed by Coun. Scott Kristjanson.

“I’ve heard from the public that these fences… they’re too big, they look like prison walls,” Kristjanson said of the proposed eight-foot, ornamental-steel fencing.

“A quarter million dollars per fence seems like an excessive amount to be spending that we could be spending on something else. Do we really need this kind of high-level, prison-like fortress around our waterworks? I personally don’t think so, but maybe I’m wrong.”

According to a corporate report, fencing at the site is part of an ongoing effort to secure the city’s “critical water facilities to harden them against potential contamination and vandalism.”

The Merklin Reservoir, Roper Reservoir and well #4 have all been fenced already. At the Oxford site, the perimeter would encompass the water treatment plant, the pump station, the Oxford reservoir and four wells, the report states.

Jasim, who headed the Walkerton Clean Water Centre in Ontario that addressed water problems in that community following the infamous E. coli outbreak in 2000, said fencing at water facilities began “since Sept. 11” – a reference to the 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. – and that he was surprised upon arriving in White Rock in 2016 that the city’s facilities weren’t secure.

READ MORE: White Rock utilities manager elected to prestigious presidency

“You see cities in the U.S., they have dogs and the security carry weapons,” he said.

White Rock’s chief administrative officer Dan Bottrill told council that he, too, was “a little shocked when we looked at this to determine that we didn’t have the kind of security system that we need for our water system.”

He said the fencing is “not foolproof, but it is an opportunity to ensure that we’re doing our due diligence for this community,” Bottrill said.

The comments didn’t sway Kristjanson, who noted “as with Mr. Trump’s wall, a ladder will get over a fence.”

“If a terrorist really wants to hurt our water, we are in trouble if we don’t have 24-hour monitoring.”

Council voted in favour – with Kristjanson opposed – of staff’s recommendation to award the contract to Streamline Fencing Ltd. Bottrill said more details are coming on what space left available to the public will look like. That will be shared at council’s July 22 meeting.

That aspect was a subject of concern for resident Dorothy Bower, who addressed council earlier in the evening, during question period.

Bower said the public has enjoyed access to the site “for decades,” to the point it has “actually created rights that the residents have that the staff can’t just blink away even though they don’t like them.”

The corporate report describes designs that incorporate a “mini park” at the northeast of the property.

Bower asked council to figure out a way to balance the “legitimate” concern for security with the public-access aspect.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

LETTER: Surrey mayor exists in political silo when it comes to issues like ride hailing

Like Trump, McCallum is pandering to small majority of supporters for political gain

Police watchdog investigating after pedestrian struck and killed in Surrey

IIO investigating after male killed in crash shortly after being released from police custody

Surrey Mounties say 40 intoxicated teens found on ‘party bus’ in Newton

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Strawberry Hill

PHOTOS: Players putt their way to Las Vegas at Surrey MSOP tournament

Two-day regional qualifier held at Eaglequest Coyote Creek

B.C. cabinet minister denies that Surrey mayor’s friend attended government meeting

Surrey councillor questions Vancouver businessman Bob Cheema’s involvement in official meeting

‘It’s almost surreal’: B.C. fire chief, sidekick Sammy recap rescue mission in Bahamas

Chief Larry Watkinson and Sam the disaster dog spent 8 days assisting a search and rescue team

‘Time to take action:’ Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

Council wants Ottawa to make reporting of suicides and attempted suicides mandatory for data collection

Canadian inflation decelerates to 1.9% as gas prices weaken

August was the sixth straight month that price growth was 1.9 per cent or higher

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

B.C. population on pace to fall behind Alberta

Provincial population could reach almost seven million in 2043, but Alberta is growing faster

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Vancouver police could be using drones to fight crime by end of year

The police department has already purchased three drones, as well as three others for training

Grand opening of Molson Coors Fraser Valley Brewery at Chilliwack cause for celebration

Ribbon-cutting with dignitaries, Molson brass and family marked the official grand opening

Most Read