Water restrictions have become automatic in Tofino.
Council unanimously adopted a new Water Use and Conservation Bylaw during July 19’s regular meeting that will see Stage 1 restrictions in effect from May 1 to Oct. 1 every year.
Under the now-former bylaw, Stage 1 had been weather dependent and only came into play if two weeks went by without rainfall between May and October.
During Stage 1 restrictions, locals with odd numbered civic addresses may only water their lawns and gardens on Mondays and Thursdays from 6-9 a.m. and 7-10 p.m. Locals with even numbered addresses may only water on Tuesdays and Fridays between 6-9 a.m. and 7-10 p.m.
The new bylaw keeps all four stages of the previous bylaw’s restrictions and, while Stage 1 will now automatically be in effect for five months of the year, Stages 2-4 remain at the discretion of Tofino’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) or the district’s Manager of Public Works.
Under Stage 2, filling hot tubs is illegal and all outdoor water use is prohibited except for food plants. Stage 3 prohibits all outdoor watering entirely.
Stage 4 restricts indoor use to drinking and sanitation purposes.
After reviewing the proposed new bylaw, Coun. Greg Blanchette expressed concern over the apparent absence of cooking uses in Stage 4.
“I wonder if we might want to put cooking in there or is that understood,” he asked.
District CAO Bob MacPherson said it was certainly the intent to allow water to be used for cooking but he acknowledged that was not clearly expressed in the bylaw’s wording.
MacPherson suggested staff could include cooking in the bylaw and bring it back to council for adoption at their next meeting but Coun. Dorothy Baert said that would be unnecessary as the bylaw was fine as written and Coun. Cathy Thicke agreed.
“I can live with it the way it is,” Thicke said.
Coun. Duncan McMaster noted Stage 4 would mean the district was in an emergency situation.
“By the time you get to Stage 4, the last thing I’m going to think of using water for is cooking and then pouring it down the sink,” he said.