The City of White Rock has begun the process of looking into purchasing ownership of its water utility from current providers, Edmonton-based EPCOR.
The move follows a recent decision by White Rock city council during which they made a request to staff to look at the possibility of making such a purchase.
"We had a meeting in-camera and decided we should at least investigate the possibility," said Coun. Helen Fathers.
Currently, the city is registered as an official intervener in EPCOR's Total Water Quality Management project, which is aimed at upgrading the local water system's infrastructure as well as introducing chlorination by 2016.
The project is expected to cost $11 to $12 million and will be footed by residents if it is approved by B.C.'s deputy comptroller of water rights.
However, that could change if the city does end up purchasing the water utility, said city manager Dan Bottrill, noting that staff is currently preparing a business case for council to make a decision.
"There is a regulatory process underway and so what we'd like to be able to do before any decision is made is prepare a business case in order to determine whether or not the city wishes to proceed and acquire the water utility," Bottrill said.
"If, at the end of the day council decides it wishes to proceed and purchase the water utility, there may be a different option than the one being proposed by EPCOR."
Part of city's business plan will be to request that EPCOR postpone its announcement of the comptroller's decision, allowing the city enough time to complete its business case, which Bottrill expects to take around 90 days.
EPCOR spokesperson Tim le Riche said it's too early to tell how things would unfold.
"Nothing official has taken place, so it's too early to talk about those kind of questions. For us, it's business as usual," said le Riche, noting EPCOR had a good relationship with the city. "They gave us a heads-up last week that they were interested in exploring whether or not they might be able to purchase, but nothing formal has taken place."
Finally, Fathers hoped that the process might finally see White Rock benefiting from owning its own water supply, rather than another city in another province.
"We would own our own water, and it means the profits that the City of Edmonton was making off of EPCOR, which is substantial, would come back to the people of White Rock," she said. "Anytime you can own something where the profits come back to the residents, that's a good thing."