December 12, 2010

- VICTORIA HARBOUR AIR SAFETY MEET 14 DEC (McLoughlin Pt under floatplane landing flight path)



Excerpt from 13 Dec agenda, meeting starts at 7:30pm:

Agenda item: 13. 2011-12 MUNICIPAL ADMINISTRATOR, December 9, 2010
Re Recovery of Capital Regional District Sewer Costs through Oak Bay Utility



City of Victoria Environment and Infrastructure Public Advisory Committee meets 14 December, 7:30pm, and item #4 is about Victoria Harbour Air Safety concerns. I have just sent an email to Victoria Councillors Luton, Hunter and Young expressing my opinion that a sewage plant at McLoughlin Pt site could pose a hazard to air safety. 

Apparently, there is a consultant report being prepared on other aspects of harbour air safety, so I thought timing of a request that could include the sewage plant site might be worthwhile. 

See several attachments related to this issue. 


ARESST: Brownoff links health project cap to "major sewage project".


Richard Watts
Times Colonist
December 11, 2010
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Increasingly budget-wary municipal politicians are moving to restrict funding provided to the Vancouver Island Health Authority for its capital projects.

The Capital Regional Hospital District, headed by the same municipal leaders who sit on Capital Regional District board, passed a motion this week to lower and cap the funding it provides to VIHA for projects such as buildings, renovations and equipment purchases.

According to the motion, instead of the traditional 40 per cent of total capital expense of any health-care project, the hospital district will only pony up 30 per cent. The final 10 per cent may be handed over but only after the health authority makes a good pitch.

The motion passed but will return next month for a final vote.

Saanich councillor and hospital district director Judy Brownoff put the motion forward. She said money is becoming too tight for the regional district, already looking at a major sewer project and transit upgrades, to automatically devote 40 per cent for health-care projects.

"This region has a lot of issues and a lot of taxation to deal with," she said.

According to the motion, the health authority can make a pitch for the withheld 10 per cent, but it will have to base it on the significance or value a project would have.

"So instead of VIHA always coming to us and saying 'OK, this is what you need to put in,' we want to be able to say 'Hold it there,' " said Brownoff. "We want to at least have some driving force around a project."

Bill Boomer, vice-president and chief financial officer for the VIHA, said lowering funding for capital projects could become a real issue in future.

For example, an $18.8 million emergency upgrade was funded with the hospital district putting in 40 per cent.

Also, Boomer said, the district initially agreed to fund 40 per cent of the new tower at the Royal Jubilee. But when the costs on the public-private partnership tower rose to $343 million, the district's contribution fell to 31 per cent.

The health authority is always prepared to speak with local politicians about the significance of any project, Boomer said.

By convention, and not by any written policy or law, Greater Victoria governments, through the Capital Regional Hospital District, have always come up with 40 per cent of funding for capital projects erected by the health authority.

But the hospital district has no say over the health authority's operations.

Brownoff said friction arises when VIHA's unelected board of directors makes decisions that are unpopular with the local community.

Decisions like the move to close the Oak Bay Lodge and Mount Tolmie Hospital or cut back on the surgical services at Lady Minto Hospital on Saltspring land in the laps of local politicians, she said.

"It's fine to have these unelected boards but we as elected officials end up wearing the issues," Brownoff said.



Kim Westad
Times Colonist
December 11, 2010
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A region-wide ban on kitchen organics at the Hartland landfill has been postponed for 18 months largely because of the extra cost to taxpayers.

The program was to have been in place in spring 2012, but the Capital Regional District voted this week to put it off until the end of 2013.

Kitchen scraps include foods and soiled paper products. They make up 30 per cent of the garbage at the landfill, which is expected to reach capacity in 2035. Banning scraps would add another five years to the life of the landfill. Instead of going into the landfill, the kitchen scraps could be used to create compost or digested for use as biogas.

Several politicians are concerned about the cost of collecting scraps to homeowners, which is estimated at about $50 per household.

In the long run, the program will save money because it will extend the life of the landfill, but it will create short-term increases, CRD chairman Geoff Young said.



Vivian Moreau
Saanich News
December 08, 2010

Two or three times a week, Jacques Sirois slips on thermal underwear, quick-dry pants and shirt, a sweater and a yellow neoprene jacket.

He loads up one of his five kayaks on a wheeled carrier and walks it from his St. Patrick Street home to McNeill Bay. Then he goes paddling.

“I call it the Greater Oak Bay marine ecosystem – there’s lots of islets, shallow waters and fast-moving waters,” he says about his regular route, which takes him east, through Enterprise Channel and past Trial Island.

Paddling during October and November, he’s noticed something more. In addition to gray, humpback and orca whales, he’s seen lots of seabirds.

“Just five minutes from my home, I found myself surrounded by thousands of auks and hundreds of murrelets. It was quite fantastic.”

The seabirds were in feeding frenzies in the Haro Strait waters.

Sirois is a retired Canadian Wildlife Service officer. For several months of the year he leads bird-watching sessions aboard tourist polar expedition cruises to the Arctic and Antarctic. But he’s never seen quite the sight he’s repeatedly witnessed while paddling in the past two months.

He knows that the cold waters currently swirling around Southern Vancouver Island are produced by La NiƱa, the cyclical shift in ocean temperatures caused by large-scale wind patterns originating from the equator. He’s surmised that fish and crustacean populations that do better in cool waters are likely growing in abundance and attracting the seabirds.

Sirois knows he’s fortunate to be able to head out three times a week to paddle off Oak Bay. But he thinks land-bound families and individuals should have an opportunity to learn more about Oak Bay’s abundant sea life. “We have exciting things happening here, but you need binoculars or a spotting scope if you’re not in a kayak,” he says.

Since moving to Oak Bay two years ago from Edmonton, he’s been surprised to learn there is no public nature house or interpretive centre in the municipality where families and individuals could get a closer look at sea life.

“One of the things I find worrisome today is that children are disconnected from nature. I’m surprised by the quality of the show we see here, and yet in Oak Bay we have zero infrastructure to help us,” Sirois says.

That could change, says Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Causton, adding that in his time on council, no one has suggested the need for an oceanfront nature viewing centre in Oak Bay.

“It’s the kind of thing that would be very interesting to have, perhaps at Cattle Point or Willows Beach where you get a lot of people,” he says.

Causton says he would welcome a letter from Sirois outlining the case for a nature house, and that it would be forwarded to an appropriate municipal committee for consideration.

Marvelous murrelets

What appears to be a greater number of seabirds in the waters around Oak Bay is really more of an open-invitation dinner party, says Environment Canada scientist Mark Hipfner.

“When ocean conditions change, generally the location of food is going to change and birds are just going to follow the food,” he says.

B.C.’s murrelet population is holding steady, but they’re usually spread up and down the coast, he adds. The birds, seen in large numbers around Southern Vancouver Island, have been attracted by a productive food source, far from the murrelets’ Haida Gwaii breeding grounds.