September 12, 2012

- CLICK HERE TO SIGN OUR PETITION!   952 signers. Let's reach 1,000 





- SEWAGE TREATMENT MAY CAUSE RENT TO RISE (major Martlet article for students)


LAWYER VYING FOR NDP NOD (enviro-lawyer Rankin)



ARESSTERS: If you go to rally below, let May and Popham know that neither feds nor province are doing proper, comparative environmental impact assessment of sewage treatment plant.


FEDERAL Building on corner of Yates and Government Streets

RALLY for SCIENCE! Stop the Harper Conservatives’ assault on scientific research and informed decision-making!

Speakers include:
- Dr. Andrew Weaver (UVic School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, team member of the Nobel Prize-winning IPCC)
Elizabeth May (Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands, Green Party of Canada leader)
- Raffi (Children’s Singer and Songwriter)
Lana Popham (NDP MLA, Saanich South - WHICH IS ABOUT 90%  IN CRD SEWAGE AREA)

Note: If you are a scientist or a science student, please wear your white lab coat 

Please come on your lunch break to this brief noon rally and show your support for science - whether you are a scientist or a concerned citizen who understands the vital role of science and evidence in a modern democratic society, and the importance of environmental monitoring for our individual and planetary health. 

Democracy depends on informed opinion. Informed opinion relies on understanding all the evidence, not just that which supports a political objective or ideology. Science provides much of the best evidence, without regard to political agendas or ideology.

The only scientific evidence the Harper Conservatives want the public to know about is that which supports their political objectives and ideology. That’s not science, that’s propaganda.

The Harper Conservatives have embarked on a systematic program to impede and divert the flow of scientific information to Canadians through two major strategies. 

The first strategy involves the gutting of scientific research institutions and programs that uncover scientific evidence. Examples of this include:

- The end of funding to the Canadian Foundation of Climate and Atmospheric Science
- The elimination of the Adaptation research group within Environment Canada
- Cuts to ozone monitoring
- Closure of the Polar Arctic and Environmental Laboratory (PEARL) in Eureka
- End of federal funding for the world renowned Experimental Lakes Area near Kenora, Ontario
- The elimination of the marine contaminants program within the DFO
- The loss of scientists in Natural Resources Canada to study ice cores data (and the hope to find a university with a large fridge willing to take the 80,000 year ice core record Canada’s government no longer wants)
- The end of monitoring smoke stack emissions
- Cut backs in the Canada Oil and Gas research group in Halifax
- Other major funding cuts research programs at Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Library and Archives Canada, the National Research Council Canada, Statistics Canada, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
- Decisions to close major natural and social science research institutions such as the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area, the National Council of Welfare and the First Nations Statistical Institute.
- Cutting the mandatory long-form national census.

Harper’s second strategy is to impede the bringing forward of scientific evidence into the public debate. Examples:

- Shutting down the National Round Table on Environment and Economy (NRTEE), an arm’s length advisory body providing independent advice on environmental protection and economic development, because the government didn’t like its advice.
- Not renewing the National Science Advisor in 2008.
- Dozens of instances of censoring of, impeded access to, and coercion of government scientists, a practice which Minister of Environment Peter Kent has justified as merely in keeping with “established practice”.

Please come out to halt the Harper Conservatives’ undermining and dismantling of a scientifically-informed society!

For more info contact Ken Wu at 

Organized by the Ad Hoc Committee of Citizens for Science



ARESSTers: Drop by our table at Luxton Fall Fair! We'll have petition to sign if you haven't signed already.

Friday September 14 4pm to 7pm 
Saturday September 15: 10AM to 7PM
Sunday September 16: 10AM to 5PM



Mark the date in your calendar to come to our ARESST Town Hall rally on 3 October, 7:30pm, at St Ann's Academy, 835 Humboldt Street  Victoria
We'll have ARESST t-shirts for sale too!




VICTORIA – The all-party Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services announced today its plans for conducting provincewide budget consultations. The consultations will begin once the Budget 2013 Consultation Paper is released by the Ministry of Finance.

“The consultation process provides an important opportunity for British Columbians to provide input on next year’s provincial budget,” said Committee Chair Douglas Horne. “We invite any interested individuals and organizations to participate,” added Committee Member Mable Elmore.

This year’s consultation process will include public hearings in 19 B.C. communities and videoconference sessions covering an additional three locations. The public is invited to attend a public hearing, send a written submission, respond to the online survey, or submit a video file.

Public hearings will be held in the following locations:

Victoria Oct. 18

To register for a public hearing, please contact the Parliamentary Committees Office by phone, by calling toll-free 1 877 428-8337, or by emailing:

For more information on the work of the committee, including a list of committee members, please visit the committee’s website at:

The deadline for public input is Thursday, Oct. 18. The Committee will release its report by Thursday, Nov. 15.

Click here to find out more!




Richard posed the question to Elizabeth May that led her to take a "straw poll" of town hall audience and while some didn't raise their hands, most did raise their hands
to reject current CRD sewage plan, and only one guy showed he supported the plan. Elizabeth still says she wants sewage treatment, but qualifies it with a lot of
concerns about the site, technology, resource recovery, sludge, etc. 

Fuzzy photo shows Richard as he poses the question to Elizabeth May



Richard reports: 

The ERA booth at the Esquimalt 100th celebration exceeded expectations.

We collected 137 signatures in 5 hours-6 hours. 20/hr is a very good rate.

We now have over 1000 signatures which is number the media can latch onto.

4 in 10 wanted to sign without question
3 in 10 wanted to sign after hearing what we had to say
1 in 10 was converted after in depth discussion
1 in 10 wanted more information to think about it
1 in 10 ignored us


73 Esquimalt
47 Victoria
7 Saanich
5 View Royal
3 Colwood
1 Langford



ARESST: UVic student news editor Vanessa Annand covered our ARESST Clover Point news conference in August and her report below appeared recently.  

Annand quotes CRD chief Geoff Young as saying:

- "this is the price of environmental progress, and is inevitable."
- we have done and are doing baseline studies to determine what the impact of the new plant will be"
- “An EIS of the marine outfall and effluent discharge will be prepared and submitted when studies are completed in mid-2011.” The CRD says this EIS is behind schedule and should be completed by the end of the year.  

and statements from Jack Hull: 

- “In terms of a detailed study comparing, no. That issue went away when we were ordered to provide secondary sewage treatment. The issue was not up for debate at that point. It was complying with the order, and that's what we're doing,” says Hull. 

SEWAGE TREATMENT MAY CAUSE RENT TO RISE (major Martlet article for students)

Local activists cite cost, environment as concerns with Victoria’s new program

Vanessa Annand
Sep 06, 2012
Volume 65 Issue 5

UVic students may face rent hikes in the region of $50–$100 per month if Victoria's new sewage treatment system goes ahead warns a local activist group. 

The Association for Responsible and Environmentally Sustainable Sewage Treatment (ARESST) has launched a petition to stop the Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program (CAWTP) from being implemented. The petition was sparked in July when federal and provincial governments pledged $253.4-million and $248 million respectively towards CAWTP. The remainder of the $782.7 million project will be covered by the Capital Regional District (CRD), which means Victoria citizens will foot a $281.3 million bill — if the project stays on budget. 

Esquimalt Councillor Dave Hodgins says that, over- or on-budget, the price is too high. 

“It's all our tax dollars,” says Hodgins, a member of ARESST. “It's our money. It's not that all of a sudden we've come across this pot of money from somewhere. It's our money that's being put into this senseless, needless project.” 

The CRD estimates that taxes in Victoria will rise by $250–$500 per household in order to pay for the CAWTP, but ARESST says this figure will more likely work out to $500–$800 once cost overruns arise. The governments’ contributions are fixed and will not increase even if the CAWTP goes over budget. Budget overruns are highly likely says ARESST spokesperson Elizabeth Woodworth, pointing out that the project was originally estimated at $1 billion but was then scaled back to just under $800 million. 

Students who rent suites or apartments may have the bulk of those taxes passed on to them, says Woodworth. She adds that, because many students only rent their suites for eight months of the year, landlords might be inclined to divide the $500–$800 cost over that time frame. 

CRD concedes rent rises are likely 

If tax increases stay within the CRD’s budget of $250–$500 per household and are passed on to renters over a 12-month period, students may still face rent rises of $20–$40. Although the B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch says landlords can only raise rent by a maximum of 4.3 per cent per year, landlords can apply for an additional rent increase if they have “incurred a financial loss from an extraordinary increase in the operating expenses of the residential property.” Higher taxes due to sewage treatment may constitute just that. 

Even those who live in UVic residence housing may not be immune to the increase.

“There's no getting away from it: the operating costs of the university-operated housing will go up, and I would assume that that would have to be passed on to student residents,” says CRD chair Geoff Young. “For those who rent in private houses, the monthly bills of the owners and landlords are going to go up, and I guess they will have to make decisions about how they want to pass them on to their tenants.” 

The core area municipalities of Colwood, Esquimalt, Langford, Oak Bay, Saanich (where UVic is situated), Victoria and View Royal will all use and pay for the CAWTP. In addition, the Beecher Bay, Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations have signed agreements with the CRD to utilize the CAWTP. Each municipality must decide how its citizens will pay. Increased property taxes are one option, though a per-household volumetric charge based on water usage seems more likely and, to many, more fair. 

Young says this is the price of environmental progress, and is inevitable. He draws a comparison to the fact that Victoria used to dump garbage in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Currently, 130 million litres of sewage effluent are pumped into the Strait every day. Finding alternative means of garbage disposal was necessary, despite the cost, and Young says the same is true of sewage. 

“Mostly the cheapest way to get rid of stuff is to throw it away, whether you throw it in the ocean or throw it in a hole in the ground. As you try to get rid of stuff in a better way by reusing it and separating out the harmful components, there is a cost,” he says. 

Environmental merits of the CAWTP contested 

ARESST disagrees not only with the cost of the CAWTP, but also with the environmental benefits the CRD says it will provide. 

“A lot of people don't realize what the present system does,” says Chris Garrett, a recently retired professor in UVic’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences. 

Garrett says that CRD sewage runs into two pumping stations: one at Clover Point and one at Macaulay Point. What he describes as “nasty-looking stuff” sticks to rotating screens with six-millimetre holes (“the size of a pea”). The detritus is scraped off the screens, compacted and taken to a landfill, and the water is pumped out more than a kilometre into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where it is swept away by rapid currents. 

“What gets pumped out to the ocean is admittedly very smelly, but still a very thin, grey soup,” says Garrett of the existing system, which is known as “preliminary treatment.” 

He says the CRD has done an excellent job with source control by encouraging people like mechanics and dentists to remove harmful substances at their businesses with their own settling tanks, so many harmful chemicals never get into the wastewater to begin with. 

“Spending hundreds of millions on a land-based secondary treatment plant is a low priority for marine environment protection,” says Garrett. 

But land-based sewage treatment — or “secondary treatment” — is what the CRD says it needs in order to comply with both provincial and federal government regulations for sewage treatment by 2020. Secondary treatment removes more harmful substances from effluent, including bacteria. 

ARESST says that secondary treatment, which will require the construction of new sewage pipes, a treatment plant in Esquimalt, new underground tanks and a second biosolids plant at the Hartland Landfill, does not have any demonstrable benefits for human health or for marine life in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. ARESST believes the construction and operation of the CAWTP will create a more substantial environmental footprint than the current system. 

“There is no net health benefit to an on-land, artificial, secondary treatment plant. In fact, there are greater health risks,” says David Anderson, the honorary president of ARESST. Anderson was Victoria’s MP for 13 years, and has also worked as both the federal minister of the Environment and the minister of Fisheries and Oceans. 

Anderson says the Strait of Juan de Fuca presents a unique natural system that can handle preliminarily treated sewage because of the high volume of oxygenated water that moves through it. He says a reliance on artificial systems even when natural ones will do is a “human tendency” he’s often witnessed during his time in politics. 

What’s next? 

Young says the CRD has conducted sufficient studies to determine that secondary treatment is the right choice. 

 “We have done a lot of work on the existing system and what the impacts are, and we have done and are doing baseline studies to determine what the impact of the new plant will be,” says Young. 

An Environmental Impact Study (EIS) on the effects the CAWTP will have on land was completed in June 2010. It found that “the environmental and community impacts resulting from construction and operation of treatment and ancillary facilities can be effectively mitigated.”  The second page of the report states that, “An EIS of the marine outfall and effluent discharge will be prepared and submitted when studies are completed in mid-2011.” The CRD says this EIS is behind schedule and should be completed by the end of the year.  

When asked if the CRD had done a study to compare the environmental impacts of the existing system to the proposed one, Jack Hull, the CRD’s general manager of integrated water services, said no. 

“In terms of a detailed study comparing, no. That issue went away when we were ordered to provide secondary sewage treatment. The issue was not up for debate at that point. It was complying with the order, and that's what we're doing,” says Hull. 

ARESST wants the CRD to apply for an exemption from the government order, but Hull says the CRD has no intention of submitting such a request. Anderson says that, although secondary treatment plants are appropriate when natural conditions can’t handle the sewage, the CAWTP is not appropriate for Victoria.  

“Quebec City gets far more snow than here every winter,” says Anderson. “If the federal government came down and said that Victoria . . . was going to have to have the same expenditure on snow removal equipment as Quebec City, people would say that doesn't make sense. It doesn't suit local conditions. With sewage treatment it's the same thing. What suits local conditions?” 

ARESST will hold a town hall meeting about the CAWTP on Wednesday, Oct. 3 @7:30 p.m. in St. Ann's Academy (835 Humboldt St.). Visit for more information. 

The CRD will hold its next Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee meeting on Monday, Oct. 10 @9:30 a.m. at the CRD offices (625 Fisgard St.). Check out their website,, for more information. 

*Correction: This story was originally published with an incorrect website address (""). The correct website address is The article was updated on Sept. 6.

COMMENTS can be added at: 


ARESST: Murray Rankin has probably been involved in promoting the land-based sewage plant during his tenure
as a UVic eco-lawyer and as past president of West Coast Environmental Law Association.

LAWYER VYING FOR NDP NOD (enviro-lawyer Rankin)

Times Colonist
September 09, 2012

Victoria lawyer Murray Rankin officially announces his bid to enter federal politics today.

The professor and environmental law expert hopes to run under the NDP banner in an attempt to replace Denise Savoie.

The MP announced her retirement last month, citing health reasons.

Other candidates are expected to put their names forward for the NDP nomination contest, but no date has been set yet.

Murray is the co-chairman of the Environmental Law Centre, a student-run legal clinic at the University of Victoria.

He opposes Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal, which he says is one of the reasons for starting his campaign.

"This thing is a real possibility, sadly," he said. "I have experience that I think can help out on the national level."

Rankin is the former president of the West Coast Environmental Law Association and the B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

A byelection for Savoie's seat must be called within six months.



Saanich news
September 11, 2012

Sewage treatment, light rapid transit, E&N railway and now bicycle infrastructure equal lots of dollars. Why we get excited when senior levels of government (read other taxpayers) are going to pitch in, I don’t understand.

It’s still going to have a huge impact on not only property taxes, but any tax they can increase or new fee they can create, like bicycle licensing, maybe? Bicycling is last form of transportation with no taxes, except the HST on the purchase, and in doing so would create a real disincentive to riding a bike.

Not mentioned much is annual maintenance costs that will increase year over year. New parks, new planter boxes in the middle of the roads, new recreation and cultural centres, as nice as they are, come with increasingly expensive annual operating costs. And all these new projects are going to increase it substantially.

Present and future taxpayers are going to be hit hard. Property owners won’t be the only ones affected. Renters will be too. The government will have to allow landlords to raise rents to offset the extraordinary increase in taxes over and above the present rate, otherwise it won’t be worth being a landlord.

Take a look around. You can’t go anywhere, where the roads aren’t cracked, pot-holed and in some places crumbling, and they want to build a 21st century state of the art everything else.

Bob Broughton


Mike De Souza
Times Colonist
Postmedia News
September 12, 2012

More than half of the roads owned by cities across Canada need major repairs, and nearly one-quarter of wastewater systems require billions of dollars worth of upgrades, according to a new report card released Tuesday.

The survey of more than 120 municipalities, representing about 60 per cent of the population, suggested the critical public infrastructure used by Canadians every day was "at risk."

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which released the report in partnership with construction, civil engineering and public works stakeholders, said that investments in recent years have helped but that the country needs a longterm plan to avert a crisis.

"What this report card does is it shows that Canada is at a tipping point," Karen Leibovici, president of the federation, said at a news conference.

"We need good infrastructure to keep Canadians safe, to keep them healthy, to create jobs and to strengthen our economy.

But we also know that we all need to work together to do that."

The report also concluded that one out of four municipal roads was handling more traffic than its capacity.

"I commute into Toronto every day, so I guess I have a first-hand feeling of what that does feel like," said Reg Andres, senior vice-president of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering. "Ultimately, you get to the point where it's not economically feasible to transport your goods on the highway if they're sitting on the highway for far too long."

Drinking-water systems were considered to be in better shape, but the report card estimated that there were still about 15 per cent of the infrastructure that would need upgrades.

"Infrastructure, after all, is the healthcare system for Canada's national economy," said Michael Atkinson, president of the Canadian Construction Association.

The federation has previously estimated Canada needs to spend about $123 billion to bring its municipal infrastructure up to acceptable levels, an additional $115 billion in investments are needed to meet a growing demand.

While it said it wasn't necessarily trying to sound alarms, its report card warned of "troubling" trends that would require each Canadian household to pay an average of $14,000 to cover the cost of replacing the critical infrastructure that is neglected.

The federation said it would also do subsequent report cards to look at the state of transit and housing in their respective municipalities but believed it was critical for governments to address the issue with about $2 billion in federal funding about to expire in March 2014.

Responding to the report card, Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Minister Denis Lebel highlighted the federal government's recent investments in cities, explaining that it would continue to discuss maintaining that support in the future.

"We are committed to providing long-term, sustainable funding to our cities so that they can set their infrastructure priorities," Lebel's spokeswoman Genevieve Sicard said in an email, explaining that the government was continuing the consultations well before the 2014 expiration of its current infrastructure program - the Building Canada Plan introduced in 2007.

NDP transport, infrastructure and communities critic Olivia Chow said the federal government was to blame for Canada's crumbling infrastructure. She added that the government should produce an adequate long-term plan to support the cities, noting that this would also provide a boost to job creation and the country's economic competitiveness.