July 15, 2012




CITIZEN UPRISINGS SHAKE UP PATH TO LOAN APPROVALS (sewage project not mentioned - but should be!)



Excerpt from 27 June Minutes of Environmental Sustainability Committee meeting: 

7. Sewage Discharge Temperature Regulation Bylaw No. 3842

L. Hutcheson provided background information on the bylaw, which follows the business cases that have come to committee in the past.

MOVED by Alternate Director Cullington, SECONDED by Director Derman,
That this bylaw be referred back to staff for more information and that staff consult with the municipal engineers prior to the next meeting.

Discussion on the motion ensued, and topics included:
- Municipal and implications of the bylaw, as well as the impact on present and future development projects
- The timeline of introducing the bylaw
- The priorities for wastewater treatment and heat recovery from sewage

14. New Business

Private Sector Information Updates

L. Hutcheson provided an update. The Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee did not endorse the framework; therefore, staff are not moving forward on this issue.

Discussion followed, and the Committee expressed interest in having staff provide a modified framework, which could then be endorsed by the Board.

MOVED by Director Derman, SECONDED by Director Milne,
That staff provide additional information for discussion at the next meeting.




Thanks to ARESSTER Bob Wheaton for getting the attached 2-page slide presentation from Colwood.
Colwood slides: http://goo.gl/f0mH3


John Goudy
Times Colonist
July 15, 2012

Re: "Public should have say on costly projects," July 7.

I agree that the public should have a greater - and significant - say in how the politicians intend to spend our money on "costly projects."

I suggest that all the major wants for the area over the next 10 years should be ranked, and the ranking be available so that the Greater Victoria public may provide input.

What is more important to us? A Mackenzie interchange? Light rapid transit? A maritime museum? Unneeded sewage treatment? Another hospital?

John Goudy




Saanich Councillor Vic Derman's position on the CRD sewage treatment plant project is well-known by some ARESST members - he supports
a land-based sewage treatment project but has continued to object to the management and design of the CRD's current system. Vic wants much
more resource recovery. 

Attached letter from Vic, broadcast by email and received 15 July doesn't adequately address ARESST/RSTV concerns that the current land-based
sewage treatment plant project is unnecessary, but Vic does make a statement that may allude to ARESST/RSTV criticism of the project:

"The fact that research indicates no pressing emergency in receiving waters makes this "all-in" approach particularly importune.
      - un-numbered page 3, second paragraph from end of page.

Vic Derman letter link: http://goo.gl/mdWpj


Excerpt: For generations, people on this end of the Island have been using the toilet God or nature provided. Now they're being directed by high levels of government to subject sewage to highly expensive treatment.


Iain Hunter
Times Colonist
July 15, 2012
Letters to editor: letters@timescolonist.com

Only a shitepoke, as the old saying goes, fouls its own nest.

Mankind, not belonging to the family of herons and bitterns, is peculiarly fixated on waste disposal.

That's a good thing, because human beings create so much of it in satisfying their needs and indulging their wants.

But the way they dispose of their personal or collective garbage, their domestic or industrial waste isn't always a good thing.

For generations, people on this end of the Island have been using the toilet God or nature provided. Now they're being directed by high levels of government to subject sewage to highly expensive treatment.

It's as if they were inland, swamp dwelling shitepokes with no place to poke to. They're not. They're creatures of the shore at the edge of an out-flowing saltwater receptacle where seagoing creatures are anxious for the nutrients they provide.

Getting rid of stuff we no longer want is a problem worldwide. We learned last week that the Hartland landfill won't accept drywall any more after Sept. 4. The stuff not containing asbestos has been recycled for a fee, but it has been found cheaper and simpler not to take it.

In Hamburg, there are protests against a proposal to accept 350 tonnes of toxic waste from Bhopal, India, where thousands died in a gas leak from a Union Carbide facility in 1984. Unlined pits and a solar evaporation pond of hazardous waste at the site have been contaminating soil and groundwater for decades.

The Indian Supreme Court has just directed that the government enforce a ban against the importation of all toxic waste as required by a 1989 international convention.

In Peru, demonstrations against a gold and copper mine are being repressed brutally. The project drained three lakes and built reservoirs for massive amounts of mine waste.

Environment Canada officials have warned the Canadian Energy Assessment Agency of the health and environmental risk posed by mine waste, including the carcinogen chromium-6, from the Ring of Fire projects 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.

Alberta's auditor general has warned that there is a public health risk from discarded biomedical waste, including blood, tissue, radioactive material and needles.

Heavy rains earlier this month began crumbling the earth walls of an old lead and zinc mine near Nelson and Salmo. Crews were trying to drain it last week.

In 2010, about 700,00 cubic metres of red toxic sludge containing arsenic and mercury leaked from an aluminum plant inundating Hungarian villages and flowing into the River Danube.

Scientific American last month published a report on the underground injection of oil and gas waste in the U.S. It showed that no one knows how much contamination of the groundwater is occurring, that wells that may be leaking are tested only once every five years and that 7,500 violation orders were issued against waste wells in 2010.

I won't go on. I don't have to. But let's come back to our neck of the woods.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District wants the Ministry of the Environment to put a moratorium on an application to reclaim a gravel quarry with contaminated soil. The "facility" is beside a stream leading into Shawnigan Lake where many draw their drinking water from.

The application posted at the site projects discharges of effluent after hydrocarbons, metals, nutrients and organic contaminants have been removed.

The lake-dwellers don't know where the contaminated soil is coming from. It could be from sites on the Island or offshore, if the price is right. Bhopal is probably too far away.

The B.C. government owns contaminated sites of its own. The Capital Regional District and Greater Vancouver Regional District have watershed management regulations that prohibit contaminated-soil facilities.

The Cowichan Valley district, apparently, has no such clout. The provincial government says it will listen, but in the end it's a matter between the province and the applicant.

There's no profit in decontaminating soil where it lies, apparently.

Those living on the lake can only hope that what flows from the facility is less harmful than what comes from their septic tanks and nasty speedboats.

There's a little shitepoke in all of us, after all.




ARESST: Interesting commentary by MLA Fleming, because so far, NDP's only criticism of the CRD sewage treatment plant project was when
consideration was to be a P3, and their CUPE affiliates probably demanded NDP say something. 


Cuts to marine, science monitoring put brunt of change on province
Rob Fleming
Times Colonist
July 11, 2012
Letters to editor: letters@timescolonist.com

British Columbia will be disproportionately affected by the federal Conservative government's passage of the omnibus Bill C-38.

Buried within 420 pages of budgetary provisions, amendments to acts and policy changes on everything from telecommunications to immigration, the bill makes sweeping changes to environmental protections that will have detrimental impacts on our province's environment.

The bill completely rewrites the Environmental Assessment Act and weakens the assessment process, shortens the list of protected species, abolishes the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act and guts the Fisheries Act.

While all of Canada will be affected by the amendments to the nearly 60 environmental statutes, B.C. - as Canada's Pacific Coast province - will bear most of the brunt of these legislative changes. Cuts to Coast Guard operating budgets, the reduction of science personnel across government and the closure of the Pacific Coast's oil-spill response centre will diminish B.C.'s capacity to prevent, monitor and respond to potential environmental disasters.

Under these amendments, the federal cabinet could choose to go ahead with the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project, which would create great risks and little reward for B.C., even if the decision of the National Energy Board's joint review panel is not to approve it.

To make matters worse, we've seen the B.C. Liberal government champion these damaging federal changes and fail to stand up for the best interests of B.C.

New Democrats are not alone in their concerns over C-38. Several former Conservative and Liberal ministers of fisheries, as well as habitat experts, anglers and hunting organizations such as the B.C. Wildlife Federation, have raised the alarm about the widespread negative consequences stemming from these changes.

Take the example of the Environmental Assessment Act, which now declares "equivalency" in almost all instances with the B.C. environmental review process. Just two years ago, while the B.C. environmental assessment office's review gave the Prosperity Mine project the green light to proceed, the federal environment minister pulled the plug, saying it would involve "destruction of entire ecosystems." Had the new amendments been in place, Fish Lake would have been drained and prepared as a toxic tailings pond - its fish population and cultural significance to the Tsilhqot'in people lost forever.

While ending process duplication and unnecessary time delays is desirable for both industry and communities in B.C., no one has called for the scope and quality of environmental reviews to be reduced. But this is precisely what has been put at risk.

What is most worrisome is whether B.C. will be able to handle the responsibilities that will be downloaded with these changes. Prior to Bill C-38's passage, the auditor general of B.C. criticized the capacity of the environmental assessment office to oversee and perform compliance work on reviews and permits of major projects.

Since the B.C. Liberals have stood idly by while the federal government has made these changes, it remains to be seen how they will actually respond to the drastic reduction in federal involvement and scientific assessment of projects in B.C. that affect fish and ecology.

This is a tall order, considering that the provincial Ministry of the Environment has not budgeted for increased responsibilities, and has fewer scientists and personnel across the resource ministries than it had in 2001.

Adrian Dix and B.C.'s New Democrats have raised concerns in the legislature about how these changes will affect our province and guide our economic development. And unlike the B.C. Liberals who have remained silent on the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, we have formally registered our opposition with the NEB's joint review panel.

A post-Bill C-38 Canada threatens to expose B.C.'s dire lack of capacity to fill the gap and provide timely, comprehensive and participative environmental reviews that meet the standards and expectations of British Columbians.

- Rob Fleming is the MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake and the official opposition environment critic in the B.C. legislature.



'You really do get used to it,' Esquimalt mayor says
Bill Cleverley And Jeff Bell
Times Colonist
July 13, 2012
Letters to editor: letters@timescolonist.com

There's something rotten in West Bay, and it stinks.

It smells like rotting eggs, but it's actually rotting sea lettuce - and the unpleasant odours could continue into late August.

City officials say that while the sea lettuce may not smell good, it does not pose a health risk.

And for the locals, the bright green algae is just a fact of life.

"You know, you do what you have to do and there's so much beauty around it, you just get by it," said Esquimalt Mayor Barb Dejardins, who has lived on a houseboat in West Bay for the past six years.

"It's probably a bit worse at certain times of the day - when it's in the morning and misty. But you really do get used to it."

Asked if people ask her for a rebate on their taxes because of the unpleasant smell, Desjardins said with a chuckle: "No, because I tell them it's Victoria. And it is."

Desjardins said if she hears any complaints at all, it's usually about how it looks.

"Every once in a while, you'll be walking on the walkway and someone will think it's toilet paper from our sewers," Desjardins said.

The drying algae is sometimes mistaken for toilet paper as it bleaches white in the summer sun, leading some residents to believe human waste is involved, said Victoria spokeswoman Katie Josephson.

"Often, people will confuse it with a sewage issue," she said.

The ruffle-edged sea lettuce grows in warm, shallow waters and is found locally from West Bay Marina to Robert Street. Low tides and exposure to the summer sun cause it to dry out and wash to shore, where it accumulates and rots, releasing hydrogen sulfide - and that rotten egg smell.

Sea lettuce is just beginning to create concerns this year. "It's starting to be an issue now," Josephson said. "It varies in time depending on the temperature or the tides."

As unpleasant as the odour can be, there is no health risk, she said.

"In part, it's just the tidal action of the bay itself. It's fairly flat," said Josephson. 


JULY 12, 2012
An environmental advocacy group is worried that Montreal and nearby cities could end up paying for part of a federal government plan to crack down on nearly 150 billion litres of raw sewage dumped every year into Canadian waterways.

Coralie Deny, of the Conseil régional de l'environnement de Montréal, said it's great Ottawa wants to reduce the sewage that ends up in the St. Lawrence River and other Quebec waterways. "But the cost of this can't come back to the cities," Deny said. Ottawa should back its plan with funds, she said.

Adam Sweet, an aide to federal Environment Minister Peter Kent, said this week that a plan in the works since 2010 will eventually go ahead. He did not provide details. The government previously said such measures could cost cities up to $20 billion to implement over 20 to 40 years.

Fabrice Giguère, a spokesperson for Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, said the city complies with all current laws. "We'll look at any future law when it is proposed," Giguère said.


CITIZEN UPRISINGS SHAKE UP PATH TO LOAN APPROVALS (sewage project not mentioned - but should be!)

Voters are fighting back against high-priced initiatives in the capital region. Is it time to change the process?
Derek Spalding And Bill Cleverley
Times Colonist
July 15, 2012
Letters to editor: letters@timescolonist.com

A failed attempt to borrow $8 million for a new fire hall in View Royal has led to criticism of the method chosen to obtain approval for the loan.

About 1,300 people filed petitions to stop the municipality's proposed loan, nearly double the 770 required. A common concern expressed to council was that the price was too high for a fire hall.

View Royal became the third municipality in the Capital Regional District to have a major initiative blocked by voters through an alternative approval process.

When municipalities want to borrow large amounts of money, they have to get approval from voters, either through a referendum or the alternative approval process. Under the alternative process, the spending can be stopped if 10 per cent of voters file petitions against the loan.

The system is designed to gauge public opinion for spending taxpayers' money, and often goes unnoticed when projects, such as Langford's new bowling alley, move ahead with wide support. But increasingly, people view the process as a tool used by politicians to keep projects under the radar.

"People are considering this to be an affront to democracy," said Mat Wright, one of the directors of johnsonstreetbridge.org, the group that forced a referendum on the $42-million borrowing for the Johnson Street Bridge replacement. "I think councils have to go to referendum or some sort of plebiscite beforehand because the alternate approval process is obviously not working for them."

In recent years, Victoria had the first failed alternative approval process, also known as a counter petition. The borrowing for the bridge replacement was later approved through a referendum.

Then came Sooke's attempt to enter a $21-million, long-term agreement with EPCOR to operate its sewage system. The deal was scrapped and a modified, shortened one signed.

With almost twice as many signatures as needed to block the fire hall borrowing, View Royal now has to decide its next move.

Coun. Heidi Rast said the counter petition worked as it should.

"It did what it was supposed to, which was gather feedback on an important issue," she said. "Now we, as a council, have to figure out what we need to do to make this acceptable."

But some people questioned the effectiveness of the process.

Victoria Coun. Chris Coleman said in hindsight Victoria would have been better off going directly to a referendum in 2010 on borrowing $42 million toward the new Johnson Street Bridge.

Referendums are generally more costly, he said.

"But we're also seeing a growth in the desire for the public to be involved in governance. And I suspect the trend will be that we'll go to more and more referendums and fewer AAPs," Coleman said. "The danger that comes with it is you go to the California model, where you do everything by referenda. Then you don't invest in highways for 20 years. That's the caution that goes with it."

Sooke Coun. Herb Haldane accused councils of using counter petitions to create the appearance of fair process.

"Alternate approval processes are a scam," he said. "It's set up by municipalities or councils. They try to put the onus on the people who have to go out and collect the signatures."

Other critics say residents often mobilize to kill a project more because they do not like the process.

The fact that the bridge borrowing was later approved in a referendum speaks volumes, Wright said.

"It's not necessarily against the issue at hand, as in the case with the Blue Bridge and, I think, in the case of the fire hall."

But people consider the process an "affront to democracy," he said.

Wright said voters seem to be mobilizing "because they can."

"There's a little bit of a hint of radicalism in the air around politics at all levels right now," he said.

Such contentious projects become flashpoints that allow residents to become "sporadic citizens," said Michael Prince, University of Victoria Lansdowne professor of social policy.

"They very occasionally engage in the public process," he said. "I guess it's people's right not to vote and their right to be apathetic most of the time, and then to be mobilized or incited to action."

Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin noted that not every approval process fails. Victoria recently used the process to get approval to operate two former Traveller's Inns, which did not become an issue. In 2010, Langford successfully went to counter petition to borrow to build a new bowling alley.