A number of residents on Sage Mesa's Verano Place are concerned that the fire hydrant on their street is not what it appears to be. That is, the fire hydrant was installed by Sage Mesa Water Co. a few years back in order to take advantage of road work by the provincial Ministry of Transportation. However, the large-capcity water line to service the fire hydrant is not yet in place (see the letter from the Sage Mesa Water Co. for more information).
The following is my response to inquiries from some very concerned residents:
I have discussed this matter with RDOS staff and, as you probably already know, fire hydrants are ultimately the responsibility of the water purveyor (in this case, Sage Mesa Water). The taxes you pay to the City of Penticton (through a contract managed by the RDOS) are for "fire suppression" (basically trucks and fire fighters who come when you call 911). As Ms. Cooper's fire shows, however, this division of responsibility is extremely problematic. Moreover, RDOS staff is concerned that the gap on Verano Place is symptomatic of other problems in the Sage Mesa hydrant network.
Fortunately, the Province seems to understand the problems associated with the fragmented services/responsibilities that have evolved in rural areas and is now working towards consolidation. For example, the Province has supplied money to the West Bench Irrigation District (WBID) to upgrade its water treatment system and infrastructure on the condition that the WBID disband. Responsibility for water on the West Bench will then be handed to local government (either the RDOS or the City of Penticton through an "extraterritorial" contract). As the case of Naramata shows, this can work very well: The RDOS supports and collects taxes for the Naramata Fire Department but also takes responsibility for the provision and maintenance of fire hydrants through the Naramata Water System.
Unfortunately, Sage Mesa is not there yet. Ultimately, at some point in the future, the Sage Mesa Water System will be transferred to local government in order to increase service levels and reap economies of scale. However, as the West Bench example shows, this can be a long and (in my view) needlessly protracted affair. Moreover, the RDOS has no involvement in this process—it is all up to the provincial government. I have already contacted Mr. Barisoff's office regarding this issue but you and your neighbors may also want to make sure he understands your predicament.
In the mean time, Mark Woods, the Community Services Manager at the RDOS, will be looking into the fine print of our fire protection contract with the City of Penticton to see if there are any specific provisions for hydrants. It is a long-shot, but it is all the RDOS can do to help at this point.