January 27, 2011




Dr Shaun Peck's presentation to the CRD Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee January 12th 2011.

The best of the New Year to you.  Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you again.

I will address agenda items # 5 Inflow and Infiltration, # 6 Budget for the Liquid Waste Planning and item # 7 Letter from Environment Minister Murray Coell.

Speaking to the Inflow and Infiltration report (Agenda #5).  I am glad to see that the outcome being sought is mentioned. So often reports deal with just the process. The purpose of I and I is to prevent (mostly) water from getting into sewer pipes so that the pipes will not be overloaded with the resultant sewer overflows to the beaches around the coast. The other outcome that can be achieved is a reduced size of any future land based sewage treatment plant because plants are designed based on the volume of water to be processed. (Sewage is 99.97% water). It appears from this report that at 12 sites monitored (35% of 34 sites) there has been a decrease in I and I measured which is good news.

I found it of interest that there are estimated to be 2100 KM of sewer pipes in the Core Area and that 40% of the pipes are on private land – connected to houses and other private property.

I would have liked to see an estimate as to how much I and I occurs on private land or whether in fact the significant I and I is mainly into the larger collecting system maintained by the CRD and the Municipalities.

Before embarking on this proposed education program one should ask- how effective is the proposed education program expected to be?  Will there be any way of evaluating it?  Is it nice to do or cost-effective?  Can the outcome be measured? These questions should be asked because in developing public education or promotion programs often money is spent and no one knows at the end whether it was cost-effective. Did it produce the desired effect?  After all if it does result in a significant reduction then there will be a reduction in the size of any sewage treatment plant that might be needed in the future.

Why is there not any reference in the I and I report to the elimination of combined sewer and storm drain pipes as occurs in the Uplands area of Oak Bay and perhaps other parts of the Core Area?  My understanding is that this is major source of unnecessary rain water getting into sewer pipes but the report does not mention this. It certainly will have a positive impact on the outcomes desired if it is eliminated.

Speaking to the Budget (Agenda #6). The report shows that to date from 2006 the CRD has spent $15.7 Million on planning and $6.7 Million on land acquisition. I have the following points for your consideration in discussing this report.

What is the reason for the $3,230,112 not being received?  This must be either the Federal or Provincial contribution to the second Load Authorization by-law of $10 Million, for which as I recall, there was a multipage comprehensive three government agreement for cost sharing. I have always wondered whether the second $12 Million Loan authorization by law was going to be cost shared. It appears from this report that this will not be occurring. Could this be clarified? I do realize that neither the Province nor the Federal Government will cost share land costs.

It is good news that there does not appear to be any need for a further loan authorization by-law at this time for what are called capital costs.  These so called capital costs are in fact costs for planning for capital expenditure rather than costs of capital.  Although I understand it is acceptable accounting practice, it does seem odd that planning costs are amortized over time rather than paying for them up front.  It might be more accurate and helpful to label them capital planning costs.

Speaking to Agenda item #7 I am pleased to see that Minister Coell  has allowed the deferral of the audit of the Liquid Waste Management Plan Amendment 8 until March 31st 2012. This includes reference to the public having “meaningful input into the implementation of the plan” and “an independent audit on the commitments contained in the plan”.  As a member of the public and a taxpayer this is welcomed.

For my last half minute I would like to speak on an unrelated subject. To those members of you who are on the CRD Board I urge you, this afternoon, to pass the Capital Regional District Bylaw No. 3711, “Capital Regional District Tanning Facility Regulations Bylaw No. 1, 2010”. By passing this Bylaw you will be providing public health leadership, as you have done in the past with other public health issues such as the hazards of tobacco smoke. This new bylaw will prevent some young people from developing skin cancer.  

Thank you, 

Dr Shaun Peck, Public Health Consultant
Member of Responsible Sewage Treatment Victoria  www.rstv.ca  
Board member of Association for Responsible and Environmentally Sustainable Sewage Treatment www.aresst.ca


Some interesting conflicts showing up in the 12 Jan minutes include split decisions on the CRD's sewage plant budget document, where committee members
Derman, Desjardins and Saunders opposed the majority for receiving the management budget. Then, to Derman's motion that Nexterra's waste-to-energy project be
investigated, Derman, Desjardins, Hill, Lucas and Saunders opposed majority. CRD sewage chair Blackwell alone opposed a motion to "harmonize" the solid
waste and sewage programs. To the motion to continue exploring the Esquimalt-Colwood undersea route and determine concerns of province and federal governments 
to dredging a pipeline, Herbert and Fortin opposed the majority decision. Then they went 'in-camera', and who knows who opposed what in that?



Rob informs that: 

This October 25-27th Environment Canada & the US EPA are hosting the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver. The conference features a broad range of topics, shedding light on the overall state of the Salish Sea ecosystem and informing management activities in the region. Topics typically include:

*  Marine, nearshore, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems
*  Air and water quality as it affects ecosystem health
*  Aquatic and terrestrial species and food webs
*  Land use, protection, and restoration especially as they relate to growth and development
*  Human health and well being
*  Climate Change, including its effects on ecosystem processes and human health
*  Development and application of decision support frameworks, models and systems to aid ecosystem management.

Take a look at the call for proposals and conference outline 

Marine, nearshore, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems
*  Air and water quality as it affects ecosystem health
*  Aquatic and terrestrial species and food webs
*  Land use, protection, and restoration especially as they relate to growth and development
*  Human health and well being
*  Climate Change, including its effects on ecosystem processes and human health
*  Development and application of decision support frameworks, models and systems to aid ecosystem management.

Take a look at the call for proposals and conference outline: 


David Seymour
Financial Post
26 January 2011

Too long the cost of infrastructure in Canada has been artificially kept low. Imagine learning that you had a completely unexpected $1,500 bill for housing repairs this year. Then imagine this same “emergency” coming again every year for the next 10 years. After that, you’ll find a permanent hole in your budget as you spend more on house maintenance to prevent further emergencies.

This scenario is not far from the current reality facing Canadian households. Just substitute “municipal infrastructure” for “households” and the previous paragraph describes the situation faced by households across the country. It’s the reason the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is having its first ever National Infrastructure Summit in Regina this week.

How did this happen? The shock has not come from any sudden change in the condition of the nation’s municipal infrastructure but from accounting changes at city halls across the country. Previously, cities reported the amount spent on new capital assets (mainly infrastructure) in the year that they made the expenditure. Such information said nothing the state of infrastructure, or what future expenditure might be necessary to maintain or improve it. In the private sector such forward planning would be considered irresponsible for short-term investments, let alone infrastructure with 50- to 100-year life cycles like roads and sewers.

Incentives for municipal politicians were as irresistible as they were hazardous. A municipal politician concerned about the future of infrastructure under the old paradigm had a hard road to hoe. Convincing voters to pay higher taxes for something that was most probably hidden and invisible on their municipality’s books was nearly impossible. Lower taxes or promises of more visible spending were always an easier path to office. Now the chickens of under-maintained infrastructure, sprung by hazardous political dynamics, are coming home to roost.

It is scandalous that Canadian municipalities got away with it for so long, but that’s spilt milk now. New accounting changes, mandated by the Public Sector Accounting Board and in place since 2009, require municipalities yearly to account for the value of their infrastructure and report the level of depreciation on that infrastructure.

Every road, sewer, bridge, building, desk, truck, or snow plow — in fact anything the city owns that has a useful economic life beyond a single financial year — will now be valued and reported on the municipality’s financial statements. This value will be derived from either the historic cost of the asset with wear and tear to date depreciated, or the cost of replacing the asset with a useful substitute in the future. Once the asset values are in place, a practical value for the loss in value due to a year’s use has to be reported. The kicker is that his value appears on the Statement of Operations. That is beside all of the usual expenditures that make up the budget and must be balanced with revenue each year.

Liabilities for infrastructure repair and maintenance are now on the books. A considerable backlog in infrastructure maintenance has become visible in municipalities across the country. These can no longer be put in the accounting Tardis and thrust into the future. Not even beyond the next municipal elections.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities reported in 2007 that Canada has a municipal infrastructure deficit of $123-billion, amounting to around $9,000 per household. Some cities, including Regina, the city hosting the National Infrastructure Summit, are worse off: Regina recently reported that it needs $2.1-billion over 10 years to repair and maintain its infrastructure. With 80,000 households, the average Regina home owes $25,000.

It may be that Regina is an outlier, but the Federation’s figure was based on a survey of 166 cities (only half responded). New-found infrastructure liabilities are large.
Municipal politicians can no longer evade the true cost of the infrastructure we have taken for granted. While this is a good thing in the long term, the adjustment will be at odds with long-held expectations around what infrastructure costs. When New Zealand introduced similar accounting changes two decades ago, year after year of property tax increases close to 10% were met with widespread fury. Canada’s municipal taxpayers will have to adjust to the new reality too.

- David Seymour, a senior policy analyst at the Frontier Centre’s Saskatchewan office, compiles the Local Government Performance Index (www.lgpi.ca).



February 17, 2011: The Native Plant Study Group presents "Eelgrass: A Coastal Habitat" with Nikki Wright
UVic, MacLaurin Bldg, Rm D116
Non-member drop-in fee: $3.
More info: http://www.NPSG.ca

As Executive Director of SeaChange Marine Conservation Society, Nikki will share her knowledge about eelgrass, a plant that grows along our coast. This presentation will include photos of this unique ecology which serves as a nursery for hundreds of sea critters and feeding habitat for birds.

Media Contact:
Valerie Elliott
Co-Chair, Native Plant Study Group
Victoria BC
tel:             250 598 1999