March 28, 2011



ARESST: CRD officials often support their  support for the sewage treatment plant position because it was mandated by senior government. With the federal election now underway, this would be an excellent time to tell the candidates to change the mandate!


MARCH 25, 2011


Conservative: Patrick Hunt
NDP: Denise Savoie (website problems at this time) incumbent

Saanich-Gulf Islands:

Conservative: Gary Lunn (incumbent)

Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca:

Conservative: Troy DeSouza

Editorial: Take control of this election

MARCH 26, 2011 

For most Canadians, the coming election is both unwanted and unnecessary. But it's still our responsibility as citizens to make the most of it. Politicians and party strategists, for the most part, don't really want that. They see this as their election campaign to manage. Daily edicts from party headquarters will tell candidates what to talk about -- and what to avoid. They will be instructed to make excuses for staying away from all-candidates' forums, or told to attend every one, depending on party strategy.

And the parties will bombard us with nasty, negative and false attack ads demonizing opponents. These are intended both to rally the fiercest partisans and keep moderate voters away from the polls.

It will be disheartening. But it's your duty to rise above the muck, ignore the photo ops and the campaign scripts and make an informed decision on election day -- likely May 9.

The parties want passive voters; those people make today's political tactics effective.

Don't be one. Decide now, before the campaign starts, what issues matter to you.

For example, defence policy. Do you favour the purchase of new jet fighters? If so, do you believe a better deal could have been won through competitive bidding? The parties divide clearly on those lines. And how rapidly should defence spending increase?

How important do you consider eliminating deficits quickly? The Conservatives' budget projected a $28-billion deficit this year, to be eliminated by 2015. Voters seeking a speedier end to deficits and growing debt might be concerned about Conservative plans to cut corporate taxes, or support the Harper government's plan to curb spending sharply.

Is retirement income and pension reform a priority? Health care?

Or more specific issues, like increased tanker traffic off B.C.'s coast, supported by the Conservatives and opposed by the other parties?

The parties do have clear differences on these issues, although prying out their positions is often difficult. The task is certainly easier if you decide now what issues you will focus on in assessing the parties.

Another important element should affect your decision on election day -- the individual candidates in your riding.

Certainly, party policies are important and individual MPs have, in many cases, a small role to play. But voters should still consider the background, experience and conduct of the candidates in casting a vote. (Their specific promises should get less weight, unless they can clearly deliver from a seat on the backbenches.)

That's especially true for voters who remain undecided through the campaign, or are considering staying home on election day. (Voter turnout was less than 60 per cent in the most recent election in 2008, the lowest in Canadian history.)

Voting based on the best individual candidate would not only help make Parliament more effective. It would also send an important message to all parties that they should place greater emphasis on the role of candidates and MPs. And it would serve notice to candidates and elected representatives that they should pay more attention to local voters and less to the orders of the party leadership.

None of this will be easy, especially because the people running the campaigns will spend most of their time spreading misinformation, launching attacks and concealing their own positions.

But surely democracy is worth some work.


ARESST: I rushed the email letter to the editor too quickly, as I should have said that the CRD needs full compensation for both the capital and operating costs of this unnecessary sewage plant, as well as compensation that the sewage plant, plus pipes plus sewage-energy plant will do to the environment.



Re: Sewage site rewards remain unclear (24 March)

With no need for this land-based sewage treatment plant in CRD, Esquimalt is therefore gaining no benefit from it, and is entitled to significant compensation for McLoughlin Point site and all connecting sewage pipes. City of Victoria also needs compensation because this McLoughlin Point plant & pipes will be a black hole on Victoria Harbour, contributing nothing to the harbour economy while occupying prime harbour real estate. Saanich needs compensation for the useless sewage sludge processing plant at Hartland, and for the miles of sewage sludge pipes. Reasonable compensation for this white elephant would be the utilities-level property tax assessment for the $1/2 billion land and buildings, at $33 per $1000 (City of Victoria 2010 Schedule 1), which is $1.65 million per year.

John Newcomb



The Olympian
March 24, 2011

The amount of oil and petroleum product reaching Puget Sound via stormwater runoff is considerably lower than estimated in a 2007 state Department of Ecology report, Ecology and business interests acknowledged Wednesday at a stormwater forum on the Capitol Campus.

But everyone attending the forum – including environmentalists and those with business ties – agreed that stormwater runoff is the biggest threat to Puget Sound’s health and will require a lot more money and coordinated effort to curb the problem.

As with any multibillion-dollar problem, the devil will be in the details, forum participants said.

The forum took place against the backdrop of identical bills sitting in House and Senate Ways and Means committees that would impose a 1 percent fee on the wholesale value of petroleum products, pesticides and fertilizers to raise more than $100 million a year for stormwater cleanup and pollution prevention.

Similar bills failed in 2009 and 2010, but the concept remains a top priority for environmentalists.

“The bill is still alive,” said Mo McBroom of the Washington Environmental Council. “It’s helping bring the stormwater-funding question front and center.”

The Clean Water Jobs Act faces opposition from business and agriculture interests that feel they’re being singled out to pay for the program.

Opponents of the measure point to an Ecology study slated for completion this spring that will recalculate the amount of oil and petroleum-based products reaching Puget Sound in stormwater runoff each year.

The contribution was pegged at more than 22,500 tons in 2007, but field monitoring and other refinements of the project are bringing the number down.

“Petroleum was overstated in the Phase 1 report by some 99 percent,” suggested Grant Nelson, government-affairs director for the Association of Washington Business.

Nelson said opponents of the bill are urging legislators to reject it and to wait to consider new ways to fund stormwater-control projects after the Ecology report is completed.

Ecology officials took exception with Nelson’s assessment of the yet-to-be-released study.

“The amount of oil and petroleum products is going to be lower, but not down to 1 percent of what it was,” said Rob Duff, environmental-assessment director for Ecology. By volume, it remains the No. 1 toxic chemical in stormwater, he said.

Josh Baldi, special assistant to the director of Ecology, said the toxic-loading report for Puget Sound was never meant to be used to justify or reject the stormwater legislation, but rather was a way to prioritize stormwater pollution prevention plans.

Former Environmental Protection Agency director William Ruckleshaus said a successful assault on stormwater pollution will require cost-sharing by the federal, state and local governments, and careful setting of priorities.

“In today’s climate, with money short, you need to spend it where it gets the biggest bang for the buck,” he said.



"Water cycle, climate and biogeochemical processes"

University of Victoria - Cadboro Commons: Haro Room (2nd floor)
Wednesday, April 6, 2011, 9am 3:30pm

- lunch and coffee throughout the day will be provided.
- Registration is encouraged, but not required - email to

9:00am   Registration (Coffee Available)
9:15am  Welcome and Introduction (Canadian Water Network)
9:30am  Chris Avis (UVic, Earth & Ocean Sciences) "Simulating Permafrost and Wetlands with the UVic Earth System Climate Model"
10:15am  Jack Hull (Capital Regional District: Core Wastewater Treatment Project) "Planning for Sewage Treatment in Greater Victoria"
11:00am  Coffee & Networking Break
11:30am  Mark Servos (U. Waterloo, Biology) Keynote address
12:30pm  Catered lunch (courtesy of CWN)
1:30pm  Paul Hoffman (UVic, Earth & Ocean Sciences)  "Strange waters on Snowball Earth"
2:15pm  Afternoon coffee break
2:30pm  Tom Gleeson (UBC, Earth & Ocean Sciences) "Hydrogeology at multiple scales: from small creeks to entire continents"
3:30pm  Event closing, to Grad House for social

To register in advance please email:
Registration is free, and a free lunch will be provided



Monday, March 28

Victoria Natural History Society

UVic's Marine Protected Area Research Group: from whale sharks to clam
gardens, what are they doing?

The Marine Protected Area Research Group (MPARG) based in the Department
of Geography, is involved in numerous studies relating to marine

Dr Philip Dearden, Professor and Chair of the Department will present an
illustrated talk, covering projects in Central America, Africa, and
South-east Asia, as well as Canada, why they are involved and what they
are hoping to accomplish.

We meet at 7:30 p.m. in Room 159 of the University of Victoria's Fraser
Building (

Admission is free and everyone is welcome. Bring a friend.

Thank you for your interest in the Victoria Natural History Society.
Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you think might be

VNHS Calendar:



Professor Dr. Jeanne Iribarne welcomes you and your students' attendance
at Dr. Sandra Steingraber's new film *Living Downstream: Breaking the
Silence about Cancer and the Environment,*
( Professor Dr. Tim Lambert, UBC
School of Environmental Health, speaks and moderates a discussion
afterward. By donation.

When: Wednesday March 30, 7 pm
Where: Young Bldg. 216, Camosun Lansdowne Campus

Michelle Martin
Times Colonist
March 27, 2011

Filth, fecal matter and grime in all its forms are the subject of a new exhibition in London.

Dirt: the Filthy Reality of Everyday Life features about 200 exhibits ranging from vials of urine to air samples and a floor pattern made from dust found in homes, all of which are used to examine humanity's ambivalent relationship with dirt through the ages.

"Dirt is everywhere and periodically we get very worried about it. But we have also discovered that we need bits of it and, guiltily, secretly, we are sometimes drawn to it," said Ken Arnold, director of pub-lic programs at the Wellcome Collection, where the exhibition is being held.

The exhibition takes anthropologist Mary Douglas's view that dirt is "matter out of place" as a cue to investigate human attitudes toward cleanliness.

Exhibits include a blue and white Delft Dutch chamber pot decorated with delicate depictions of country life, a sewer worker's iron pick which dates to 1890 and five large grey blocks sculpted from human feces collected by Dalits -scavengers who remove waste from India's sewers by hand.

Other highlights include an 18th-century book containing remedies for various ailments like scurvy, which it suggests should be treated using "cow stale" (urine); footage of bacteria found in dental plaque and a broom which lies inconspicuously in a corner but proves to be a masterpiece encrusted with diamonds and pearls on closer inspection.

"I want people to leave with an expanded awareness of dirt," said Kate Forde, curator of the exhibition. "Dirt is something that's in flux all of the time and it has also powered our economy," she said, noting that London's muck was taken beyond the city's walls to fertilize crops in the medieval ages, while over half of human waste is incinerated to create energy for London's homes and business nowadays.