Council makes tweaks to summer water restrictions

On Wednesday, council voted in favour of revising some of the watering restrictions

Property owners in North Cowichan, especially those with green thumbs, will likely be pleased with recently adopted changes to the municipality’s Water Works Bylaw.

On Wednesday, council voted in favour of revising some of the watering restrictions imposed on residents during summertime drought conditions.

The bylaw amendments would change the allowable watering times during stage one, two and three water use restrictions, which currently are from 6 to 8 a.m. or 8 to 10 p.m.  The new rules would allow people to water their yards and gardens from 7 to 9 a.m. or 7 to 9 p.m.

Coun. Tom Walker pointed out that because watering restrictions in 2015 last until Oct. 31, these hours posed challenges for some citizens as the days grew shorter.

“I know at least for myself and some of my neighbours were late into the fall watering, hand-watering in the dark. This created some concerns,” he said, adding he thought when the restrictions were initially put in place no one anticipated they would be running into the fall.

Another change proposed by staff and accepted by council was the adding of weeper hoses to the municipality’s definition of “micro-irrigation”.

The third amendment to the bylaw’s watering restriction is the prohibition of washing houses during stage two restrictions, unless the washing of the house is necessary to paint or apply a preservative.

Coun. Maeve Maguire said she was pleased input from the public was taken into consideration and reflected in these amendments. She also raised some concerns she had noticed with respect to the public’s response to watering restrictions.

“One of my concerns last year was particularly evident on social media, there was drought-shaming. So people taking pictures of green lawns. It made me really uncomfortable,” she said. “I’m wondering if there’s anything the whole CVRD can do in that regard to stop neighbours from going after each other if we don’t have a bylaw enforcement policy for this?”

In response, mayor Jon Lefebure said the CVRD has put out information online about why water restrictions are put in place but he was not aware of any attempts made to “delve into abuse on social media.”

Director of engineering David Conway reported the municipality did not hand out many tickets last summer.

“There were a number of warnings and information spread about during the time,” he said.