March 18, 2012

THE INCREMENTALIST - SAANICH MAYOR FRANK LEONARD (sewage treatment "really needed")


THE INCREMENTALIST - SAANICH MAYOR FRANK LEONARD (sewage treatment "really needed")

Excerpts from article:

LRT, sewage treatment and traffic were issues that loomed large back in the day, Leonard remembers. (The more things change…) In his tenure, he has seen the far-reaching consequences of decisions in all of those areas.

Sometimes, with some issues, Leonard admits, a big bang approach might be valid. When he chaired the CRD, the east coast interceptor pipe was put in to prevent sewage pollution on beaches. Leonard recalls Denise Savoie, a “mere” citizen at the time, taking the CRD to court to try and stop it. “If it was built,” he explains of her view, “it would only delay what was really needed, which was sewage treatment. She might have been right,” he concludes. In this case, to put it too simply, a small fix only prolonged the inevitable. 

MARCH 2012

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard weighs the pros and cons of the “big bang” approach to municipal politics.

Frank Leonard is an incrementalist. The mayor of Saanich since 1996 and councillor for ten years previous illustrates what that means by way of reminiscence. “I was appointed chairman of the environment committee of the CRD in 1988. A day later, the recycling depot burned down. I was off to a great start,” he chuckles. At first, volunteers were handing out white pails. “Incrementally,” he says, “we added recycling programs, including the blue box.” 

Soon he was attending conferences, explaining to others how they had succeeded in a mere five years. Step one? “Get it as a line item in the budget, even if it’s small. Then you grow it. I find, in government and bureaucracy, I can make more progress incrementally than by saying ‘I need this great big spending project all right now.’ It’s affordable. You have more win-wins, as opposed to winners and losers,” he reasons. 


Drew Yallop
Times Colonist
March 15, 2012

Re: "New bridge costs jumps, now nearly $93 million," March 14.

From a 2003 study: "Nine of 10 transport infrastructure projects fall victim to cost escalation. For rail, average cost escalation is 45 per cent. For fixed links (bridges and tunnels), average cost escalation is 34 per cent. For roads, average cost escalation is 20 per cent.

"Cost escalation exists across 20 nations and five continents; it appears to be a global phenomenon. Cost escalation appears to be more pronounced in developing nations than in North America and Europe. Cost escalation has not decreased over the past 70 years. No learning seems to take place."

Please, do not let the mayor con us with the claim that the federal government grant will "protect" the taxpayer from the overrun. The cost overrun means that there will be less money available for other needed infrastructure projects. And this shortfall will fall on taxpayer shoulders.

How confident are we now in the cost estimates for sewage and light rail?

Drew Yallop



The States agreed to upgrade work to the long sea outfall that had been suggested in the study

BBC News Guernsey
14 March 2012

A charge being levied to fund sewage treatment investigation in Guernsey will end this month, the Public Services Department has announced.

The fee of £50 per household per year funded a study that found the island did not need further sewage treatment.

It was also used to pay for repair works where seawater was entering the wastewater system.

Minister Bernard Flouquet said with the study agreed by the States and the work done the charge could end.

In February the States approved work to replace and upgrade the current long sea outfall, install diffusers to aid the natural treatment process and install screens to remove solid waste.

This work, costing £6-8m, was recommended in the study.

The department said it would also be reviewing the rest of the wastewater charge to see if it was sufficient to meet the cost of funding the island's wastewater infrastructure.

It said this could result in further changes to the water charges, but these were unlikely to come into place until 2013 at the earliest.


Guernsey’s sewage treatment investigation charge to be dropped

Guernsey Water
March 15th, 2012

The States of Guernsey Public Services Department has decided that the portion of the Wastewater Charge assigned to investigating sewage treatment options will be removed from the overall charge with effect from the 31 March 2012.

The charge, which was originally set at £50 per household per year, was used to fund the study carried out by marine experts Intertek METOC in 2011 and some other sewer pipe repair works where seawater was entering the system.

The result of the marine study informed the States Report which was approved by the States of Guernsey at their January 2012 meeting.

The study’s evidence base proved that Guernsey did not require full sewage treatment in order to meet legislative guidelines for bathing water quality, and that the local marine habitat was not adversely affected by wastewater being discharged into the Little Russel.

This decision was taken with the knowledge that the Belle Greve outfall pipe will be renewed and include specially designed diffusers to aid the natural treatment process, in addition to the recently-commenced works to install 6mm fine screens at the Belle Greve headworks.

The Department’s Minister, Deputy Bernard Flouquet said “the revenue generated from the investigation charge was ring-fenced so that it could be used for the marine study and preliminary works. Now that the study is complete, there is no need to continue to collect this particular charge.”

The Department will also be reviewing the rest of the Wastewater Charge to see if it is sufficient to meet the cost of funding the Island’s wastewater infrastructure. This may result in further changes to the water charges, although any changes are unlikely to be realised until 2013 at the earliest.



Move would make it easier for projects like Calgary-based Enbridge Inc.'s
Northern Gateway pipeline to B.C. to clear federal hurdles

Vancouver Sun
March 13, 2012

OTTAWA - The Harper government is planning to gut the powers in federal
legislation intended to protect fish habitat, making it easier for
projects such as Calgary-based Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline
to B.C. to clear federal hurdles, according to a retired fisheries
biologist who obtained the information from a government source.

Proposed new wording would prohibit activity that would cause an “adverse
effect” on “fish of economic, cultural or ecological value,” whereas the
current law bans activity that results in the “harmful alteration,
disruption or destruction of fish habitat,” according to the information
leaked to Otto Langer.

The changes, if enacted, would result in the total re-writing of the
legislation to remove habitat protection provisions that have been in
place since 1976, said Langer, a federal biologist for 32 years who later
worked for the David Suzuki Foundation before his retirement.

“This is a serious situation and will put Canada back to where we were in
the pre-1976 period where Canada had no laws to protect fish habitat and
no way to monitor the great industrial expansion that occurred in Canada,
with the consequential loss of major fish habitat all across Canada,”
Langer said in a statement.

NDP MP Fin Donnelly raised the issue Tuesday in the House of Commons,
asking Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield if the government planned to
include changes to “gut” the Fisheries Act in upcoming federal budget
omnibus legislation.

“There has been absolutely no decision made with regard to this issue,”
Ashfield replied.

His office, which was sent the proposed wording changes allegedly leaked
to Langer, did not deny the validity of Langer’s assertions. The office
also released a statement reiterating that no decision has been made, but
added that changes are needed.

“Federal fisheries policies designed to protect fish are outdated and
unfocused in terms of balancing environmental and economic realities,” the
Ashfield statement said.

The statement suggests that the Harper government is siding with industry
in a lengthy and intense lobbying battle that has been waged between
environmental and corporate lobbyists.

More than three dozen organizations that have registered with the federal
lobbyist registry have raised the matter.

The NDP accused the government of engineering a major reversal in Canadian
environmental policy.

“The Conservative government is systematically dismantling environmental
protection and regulation,” said Donnelly. “By eliminating provisions to
protect fish habitat, they can push through their agenda of pipelines, oil
super tankers, mega-mines and other projects that harm the environment.”

Langer said in an interview Tuesday that the Enbridge pipeline would cross
hundreds of rivers and streams, so looser federal legislation would be a
major break for the Calgary company.

Langer said he was told the change would be included in upcoming federal
omnibus legislation following the March 29 budget.

The new wording includes numerous exemptions to that watered-down wording
to give the minister “or a person prescribed by the regulations” the
authority to allow an “adverse effect” on fish considered of value.

Langer said the “subjective and ambiguous” new wording would make the law
extremely difficult to enforce.

“For instance, what is a fish of economic, cultural or ecological value?”
he asked.

Newly released internal documents reveal a bitter divide in Canada over
the Fisheries Act’s habitat provisions.

“Some of the largest and most complex natural resource and industrial
development projects across the country are affected by Fisheries Act
requirements, which are consistently identified as one of the top federal
regulatory irritants by stakeholders across the country,” stated a 2011
briefing note prepared for Ashfield.

The note, obtained by Postmedia News, said the legislation’s habitat
protection provisions are “one of the most frequent triggers” of federal
assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

A CEAA review “can occur for a project of any size, and across many
sectors of the economy (eg. Construction, urban development, agriculture,
nature resource development).”

The briefing note said there’s a “strong contingent” of environmental
groups advocating in favour of protecting fish habitat, while industry
groups are advocating their own economic interests.

“As minister you will be required to manage these often competing
interests in order to balance protection of fish and fish habitat
resources with other social, environmental and economic objectives of

Among the corporate lobbyists raising concerns about the Fisheries Act are
the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Business Council of
B.C., the Canadian Electricity Association, the Canadian Hydropower
Association, EnCana Corp., Teck Resources Ltd., The Mining Association of
Canada, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Council of Forest
Industries, and the Saskatchewan Power Corp.

Environmentalist and social activist groups include the David Suzuki
Foundation, Ecojustice Canada, the World Wildlife Fund Canada, MiningWatch
Canada, the Pembina Institute, and Environmental Defence Canada.

Former auditor general Sheila Fraser, in a 2009 report, said protecting
fish habitat is important “not only for fish, but also for human health
and recreational use. Healthy habitat — places where fish can spawn, feed,
grow, and live — is a fundamental requirement for sustaining fish,
providing food and shelter for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, and
contributing to water quality for human consumption and other uses.”

A senior official with the Council of Forest Industries, one of the
industry associations which has lobbied on the Fisheries Act, refused to
say whether the current wording is an irritant.

“There’s no question in our mind that many pieces of legislation,
including the fisheries legislation, could be made more efficient from an
administrative point of view, and therefore lower our operating costs and
improve our competitiveness without compromising the conservation goals
and objectives of the legislation,” said Doug Routledge, COFI’s
vice-president of forestry.


Jack Knox
Times Colonist
March 15, 2012

Four years ago, sitting in the house he built with his own two hands way up the coast in Echo Bay, 73-year-old Billy Proctor listed the ways he could tell salmon stocks had collapsed.

Hungry eagles had taken to hunting seagulls, had even killed a couple of loons before his eyes. Bears had been reduced to clawing through creek beds for salmon eggs. Seals were chasing fish far up the streams.

Proctor even saw a humpback whale scare herring right onto the mudflats in front of his home on Gilford Island, which sits in the heart of the Broughton Archipelago, a float-plane ride east of Port McNeill.

Overfishing was partly to blame for the loss of salmon, Proctor said. So was predation by seals, sea lions and dolphins. But particularly galling was the free for-all in the forest industry: bridges and culverts disrupting streams, mudslides silting up the spawning gravel, the shock of blasting for road building killing roe.

When the shade-giving trees along the banks of a high altitude river were cleared, the rocks heated, the water temperature rose and the salmon eggs died. The rules go out the window when the logging is done away from prying eyes, Proctor said.

Me, I just sat and listened, having been advised that when Proctor opened his mouth, the smartest thing to do was keep yours shut. A commercial fisherman for 60 years, and a logger, too, his knowledge of the natural world is legendary on the coast.

The conversation came to mind Wednesday with two stories out of Ottawa.

The first one dealt with the leak of a proposal to weaken 36-year-old rules protecting fish habitat, the intent being to clear some of the barriers faced by projects such as the proposed Enbridge pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat.

The fisheries minister's office reacted to the leak with a statement saying "federal fisheries policies designed to protect fish are outdated and unfocused in terms of balancing environmental and economic realities."

The second story dealt with a government plan to "modernize" environmental assessment legislation for the same purpose. The Conservatives talk about being "efficient" and "effective," about needing to save industrial development from getting bogged down by time consuming environmental reviews. They paint a picture of economic opportunities being lost to the woolly headed, woolly hatted ecoshrubs who say "no" to every job-creation idea that involves shifting a rock or chopping down a tree.

Hold on, replies Green Party leader Elizabeth May. That's a nicely spun narrative, but not one rooted in fact.

In the entire history of the environmental review process, only three projects have been flat-out rejected, says the Saanich-Gulf Islands MP.

That includes the most commonly cited example, Ottawa's thumbs-down to a proposed mine near Williams Lake in 2010. The rest of the time, the review process is merely used to tweak proposals to mitigate their environmental damage, not stop them altogether.

"This isn't a system that's set up to operate with a red light and a green light," May said Wednesday from Ottawa.

She maintains there is really only one reason the Conservatives are intent on "gutting" the Fisheries and Canadian Environmental Assessment acts: "It's all about fast-tracking oilsands projects that link to supertankers."

The broader consequences will be disastrous and should alarm any Canadian, regardless of political persuasion, who cherishes the great outdoors, she says. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is intent on stripping Canada of environmental safeguards that have been around for generations.

We can assume the prime minister has a different take. And maybe he's right. It's a matter of perspective and priority.

But the thing is, the farther you get from Ottawa (or Victoria, for that matter), with the sound of ideological warfare fading with every step, it's hard to think of the Canadian wilderness as being over-regulated.

Mismanaged, perhaps, and more troubled than a Hollywood marriage - but even when rules exist, they're enforced so sporadically that sometimes they might as well not exist at all. No wonder David Suzuki is always scowling.

When the Conservatives talk of "balancing environmental and economic realities," it's easy to imagine a voice bouncing back from Echo Bay saying, "That would be a good idea."