July 29, 2012


THE CORE AREA SEWAGE DEBATE (Oak Bay Councilor Cairine Green)
SOME SUBJECTS, HOWEVER TOPICAL, ARE BEST NOT DISCUSSED (satirical view of sewage issue included)



Professor emeritus in the school of earth and ocean sciences at UVic, Chris Garrett, on Greater Victoria's proposed sewage treatment system.

An 8-minute audio of interview of Dr. Garrett on 24 July:

PleasE also add your comments at bottom of the CBC webpage!


THE CORE AREA SEWAGE DEBATE (Oak Bay Councilor Cairine Green)

My View 

Councillor Cairine Green
Oak Bay Council
July 26, 2012

While I admit that I have never been directly involved in the region’s current sewage debate and proposal, I did serve for three years on the Saanich Peninsula Wastewater Commission that oversees the Saanich Peninsula Treatment Plant, a small seemingly effective operation that serves the municipalities of North Saanich, Central Saanich and Sidney.  It also runs a new waste-to-energy pilot project.  

So it was with interest that I read former Federal MP, Cabinet Minister and Oak Bay resident David Anderson’s timely Op Ed pieces in the July 2012 editions of the Times Colonist.  He captured what I believe are significant and valuable points about the proposed CRD sewage treatment model for the urban core.

As you know, the debate on both sides of this issue has been ongoing for the past few years following the demand by senior governments that Victoria treats its sewage.  Whether you believe that Victoria needs conventional sewage treatment or not, there is no denying that the cost of this project is huge.

Protecting human health and our environment have always been priorities for me.  But in this particular case, it appears that politics and science do not line up, which leaves many of us in a real quandary about the viability and necessity of this particular project and with questions about its impact on the local environment beyond our marine habitats.  For example, are we putting at risk groundwater and land-based habitats because of a 17 km. pipeline over land to Hartland Landfill that will carry sludge?  We know well from oil and gas industry episodes that pipelines leak.   

Conventional sewage treatment on this scale requires massive amounts of water to keep it running, despite the fact that local communities and the CRD have worked diligently during the past decades to enforce regional water conservation.  The land-based model could also potentially add to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions because of complex and costly land-based disposal of sludge or bio-solids.

And what about the potential for innovative waste-to-energy projects and water re-use?  Such components seem to be missing from this proposal, as are other sewage treatment options such as small de-centralized community treatment plants and on site technologies.  Also missing is a detailed analysis and environmental assessment of two important factors that impact local pollution --- storm water management and source control.

From an overall environmental sustainability point of view, therefore, does this proposal make sense? 

From a taxpayer perspective, many feel that this project is being forced on already burdened taxpayers who are provided with no other options.  Once built, the project may include an average tax lift per household of about $400 a year but depending on whom you believe, on where you live and on the accuracy of current cost estimates, the per annum tax burden seems to be a moving target.  Some suggest that in Oak Bay alone, the annual additional per household increase to taxpayers could be much more than recent CRD estimates, which so far top out at approximately $900.

When it comes to cost sharing by other governments, it appears there is no real guarantee either, especially from the Province.  Local MLA Ida Chong has already said that her government will not pay one penny until the project is completed, which could be at least seven or eight more years away.  The Federal Government’s commitment is just about one third of the total estimated cost, which I understand may not cover any cost overruns, always a possibility with projects of this magnitude.

I also understand that under the Provincial government’s Property Tax Deferral Program, the additional annual property taxes specific to this project may not be eligible for deferral.  How then would this impact those homeowners already on the margins financially who rely on property tax deferral for some relief?  Will paying for this sewage project put home ownership out of reach for them and for our fixed-income seniors, single income earners and young families?

What is also troubling is that the CRD seems headed lockstep down the road to a destination that reads “Welcome to the 18th Century.”  Traditional sewage treatment is an old outdated technology and this is 2012.  

I realize that local decision-makers have worked long and hard on this proposal but many taxpayers, other community leaders and many in the science community still believe that the region could do better.  I tend to agree.

That’s my view.



Jocelyn Harder
Times Colonist
July 27, 2012

Having followed the sewage discussion for many years, I must add my voice to the calls for reason.

Let's be brave and put political correctness aside and heed the science. If there ever was a cause worth rallying to, this is it.

The harmonized sales tax referendum showed us what a cause with a charismatic leader can accomplish. How do we find a leader for the collective voice in this debate before we are saddled with a cost which will far out way the scientifically demonstrated limited environmental benefits?

Jocelyn Harder



Victoria News
July 26, 2012 4:00 PM

Re: McLoughlin Point sewage treatment plant

As a property owner in Saxe Point, I am not satisfied that this location, nor this technology, is the right choice for the Greater Victoria sewage treatment.

This property is located in the heart of the city waterfront, not a location for a treatment plant.

The Capital Regional District has a responsibility to land owners and this plan does not respect our investment in land and our commitment to creating healthy and enjoyable communities.

Sandy Slobodian



JULY 28, 2012
Let's see: the new bridge will probably cost over $900 million, with prospects of it costing much more. Sewage treatment is estimated at a cost of $783 million.

Money in the bank? None, according to former Victoria Liberal MP David Anderson.

In a panic, our leaders want to sell off public lands. Where's our bidding war?

Well, how will we get the money? From small businesses, of course.

Not by helping small business owners get a start, but by fleecing them. Thirty thousand dollars for a hotdog stand? Shameful. Victoria is like a snake devouring its own tail.

I suggest we get some wisdom at city hall, then return most of the $30,000 to Stapal Pabla and Michael Ransom. This is an unwelcoming, short-sighted, narrowminded town.

Lynn Greene


ARESST: A reminder that Dept of Fisheries and Oceans puts sanitary shellfish closures at least within 300 metres of BC sewage outfalls no matter what the level of treatment, such as around Bazan Bay (Sidney) secondary stage outfall, as well as in some areas such as Sooke Harbour and Boundary Bay that have no sewage outfalls at all. Criticism of Victoria's sewage outfalls for having a sanitary shellfish closure is unwarranted. 

Times Colonist
July 27, 2012

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is reminding people not to harvest shellfish in areas that are closed due to toxins or bacterial infection.

Five people in B.C. have fallen ill so far this year from Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacteria that causes gastrointestinal illness.

The illnesses have been linked to raw shellfish served in restaurants, purchased through retail outlets or harvested by individuals.

Shellfish also may accumulate viruses and toxins. A 2010 norovirus outbreak was linked to raw oysters, and in 2011, more than 60 people became sick with diarrhetic shellfish poisoning after eating cooked mussels.

The centre urges people to buy shellfish from approved sources that are subject to federal inspections, cook all shellfish, store cooked and raw shellfish separately and obey warnings posted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. To see if an area is open for harvesting, call 1-866-431-3474.


SOME SUBJECTS, HOWEVER TOPICAL, ARE BEST NOT DISCUSSED (satirical view of sewage issue included)
Nigel Smythe-Brown
Times Colonist
July 29, 2012

The club this week was ablaze with intellect as we mems thrashed our way through subjects in the senior reading room while the pregnant waitress flew about renewing our martinis. In the midst of this friendly jousting, I was suddenly asked what had been our first impressions

of Victoria upon arrival.

I recalled that my wife and I had not been in our beautiful city more than a few days before the two toxic topics of the southern Island were thrust upon us: Sewage and amalgamation.

In the first case, I discovered that outside of Albania, Greater Victoria is the last place on earth to pour untreated effluent directly into the ocean and do it with heads held high. Held high, I was told, because there is a natural flushing phenomenon in Juan de Fuca Strait. This was the subject of an article in the paper weeks later, decrying all those who would disagree. On the opposite page and without apparent irony was another article lamenting the appearance of mutant three-eyed orcas in the same waterway, supposedly because of global warming.

I still have not been able to get my head around this idea of tossing our waste into the realm of other creatures, but the subject is generally closed with the statement that taxes would rise frighteningly. As you know, we share the strait with our American friends, but friends or not, if I were them, I would be taking us to the World Court for a flogging of some sort.

Amalgamation was the other tricky pathway, in that there are 13 nearby municipalities including dear Victoria, comprising no more than about 350,000 citizens. Each one has a mayor who reminds me of someone who has never missed a meal as well as a full civil service at their beck and call. When they are forced to meet once or twice a year, it becomes "standing room only" for the well-paid and heavily pensioned acolytes, followed by the inevitable buffet at the close of proceedings.

Every so often, some trembling taxpayer will suggest a motion to amalgamate, which foments a hail of butter tarts and Chelsea buns with verbal abuse before the shocked member of the public is escorted from the room by four or five of the many available chiefs of police.

To top it all off, who would bring amalgamation to a vote if the vote was to lead to their possible demise?

When I opened my eyes to indicate to my club-mates that I was finished speaking, I noticed that I was more or less alone, for these subjects remain tricky and it is never popular to question the status quo. Well, they did ask, after all.

Later, at dinner that night, I had told Kitty, my patient wife of some 40 years, of my predicament at the club. She reminded me of how many parties she had been asked to remove me from over just these sorts of things, especially in the early days. I ruminated while the two cats ate their blue tuna loudly behind us.

I suppose I should sign off before I bring anymore do-do down upon me, but I remember my late father saying, "Nigel, you never know when to stop."


The civil service was so called to differentiate itself from the military service, not because there is any supposed civility about it. I have only one bit of advice for it: We can no longer afford to go on like this.

Mr. Pearson, a prime minister some 45 years ago, decided to allow public labour unions, and they immediately went on strike. We cannot stand idly by witnessing our society injured every time some group within government is bloody-minded. Please don't get me started on the out-of-whack salaries, huge numbers of sick days or entitlements. Oh oh. Be careful what you say if you wish to fit in here.


ARESST: Useful to track killer whale health in Juan de Fuca because that was focus of submission to the 2006 SETAC report by the PhD in International Relations
Gerald Graham who tried to make a link between Victoria's marine-based sewage treatment and killer whale survival issues. To the credit of the SETAC researchers,
Graham's submission on behalf of T Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation (which included total of 27 TBS submissions) was not referenced in final SETAC report.


Researchers hope orcas are trying to increase their numbers
Judith Lavoie
Times Colonist
July 27, 2012

The three pods of endangered southern resident killer whales got together in Juan de Fuca Strait Thursday - and researchers are hoping they were making babies.

"When all the pods are in, that's when babies happen," said Howard Garrett of the non-profit Orca Network.

A baby boom is needed to get numbers up, said Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor, Washington.

Only one calf has been born to the pods this year, and two females from L Pod - a 79-year-old and a 48-year-old - are missing.

"It's a worry that we are having a fair number of mortalities," Balcomb said. "Neither of these whales were in their prime reproductive years, but they were good for the experience and wisdom of the pod."

The July number of southern residents officially stands at 85. In the mid-1990s, the population edged up to 98. The low, which came in 1976 after decades of hunting and aquarium captures, was 70.

The number of calves born annually fluctuates from zero to about eight, but many do not survive the first year. Calves are sometimes born in October and November, so there is still hope numbers could creep up again, Balcomb said.

One member of L Pod who will not be with her family is Lolita, who was captured 42 years ago in a roundup in Penn Cove, off Whidbey Island. At least five whales were killed and another seven were loaded onto trucks and taken to aquariums. Lolita has spent most the time since then at Miami Seaquarium.

The capture will be marked by Orca Network with a ceremony in Coupeville, on Whidbey Island, on Aug. 8 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. A demonstration will be held in Victoria by Diane McNally.

"I am trying to raise awareness about current research on the intelligence of orcas and how extremely unsuitable they are for captivity," said McNally, who will be outside the Irish Times Pub on Government Street from noon to 2 p.m. on Aug. 8.

Several groups have pushed for the Seaquarium to allow Lolita to retire to a sea pen, where she would still be fed, but could hear the voices of her family.

However, Seaquarium spokesman Jorge Martinez said there was no scientific evidence that Lolita could survive in the open ocean.

"It would be irresponsible to treat her life as an experiment and jeopardize her health and safety to follow the whims of a small group of individuals who have no first-hand experience working with a killer whale," he said, noting that Lolita is as active and healthy as ever.

A small thread of hope for those arguing for Lolita's release is a court appeal by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who are arguing against a decision to exclude Lolita from the Endangered Species Act.