November 25, 2012



IT'S TIME TO BUILD IT (opposing viewpoint to Peck)





"We are advised that a group of anti-sewage treatment activists are once again seeking to foment political opposition to sewage treatment in Victoria and the CRD, coincident with the current federal by-election campaign. 

We understand that these anti-sewage treatment activists have supported motions before the Committee, arguing that the Committee should scuttle the very LWMP that the CRD (and the Committee itself) took so many years to develop. " (page 2) 


- Wear your yellow t-shirt if you have it - we'll have some to sell too. Arrive at around 10am for brief sidewalk-bannering and to get registered as audience - it will be packed - including with sewage plant advocates maybe Mr. Floatie too...



CRD committee could suspend treatment project and demand Ottawa reduce region's level of pollution risk
Rob Shaw
Times Colonist
November 25, 2012

Critics and advocates of a $783-million plan to treat Greater Victoria's sewage are launching last-ditch efforts to influence this week's vote on whether to suspend the project.

The Capital Regional District's sewage committee will on Tuesday consider two motions that could delay the project until 2040, by demanding the federal government reclassify the region as a lower risk for sewage pollution.

Politicians were supposed to vote two weeks ago, but had to delay after a large group of people - most opposed to the plan - spent two hours delivering public statements to the committee.

The growing opposition movement prompted Tourism Victoria and the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce to issue a joint statement Friday in favour of building treatment plants without delay.

"The fact we're even considering stalling it is ludicrous," said Chamber CEO Bruce Carter. The region prides itself on protecting the environment, and dumping sewage into the ocean is unacceptable, he said.

The current plan calls for a secondary treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt by 2018.

It's not realistic to delay for 20 years, Carter said.

"If we wanted to wait for the best technology, we wouldn't ever do anything until we get it," he said.

"We'd probably still be riding horses and nobody would be using cellphones, because the day you buy it, the technology is being surpassed. The same thing is happening with sewage treatment."

CRD politicians also received a letter from environmental law group Eco-justice, warning that suspending the project could lead to legal consequences by potentially violating a provincial order to treat sewage, as well as federal wastewater regulations, contaminated site regulations, the Fisheries Act, and Species at Risk legislation on polluting resident killer whale habitats.

"What we're simply saying is, if the CRD was to entertain the motion [to suspend], first, they don't understand the law, and secondly, by doing so, they run afoul of those orders and that itself puts them in some jeopardy," said Devon Page, Ecojustice executive director.

The letter seems like a bullying tactic, said Richard Atwell, organizer of, but he hopes it will prompt the CRD to re-examine the law for wiggle-room to get more time.

"They were basically browbeating the CRD," he said of the Ecojustice letter. "They were intimidating councillors to vote a similar way - which isn't great, but is their style."

Atwell's group, which believes the current project is too expensive and has little environmental benefit, is advocating the plan be suspended and reworked into something better. Supporters have been organizing a mass letter and phone campaign to directly contact each of the 14 politicians on the sewage committee.

"Given that neither an environmental impact assessment or a cost benefit analysis has been done, it would behoove us to take a second look at the project before committing such an enormous sum of money to ensure that it is the best solution that is sustainable over the long term," Atwell said.

Another group in opposition to the plan, ARREST, is warning that the CRD's own maps show it would have to dig a path through Beacon Hill Park and along Dallas Road to lay a pipeline to Ogden Point.

Such a path could disturb archeological ruins and disrupt and damage the park, said researcher Elizabeth Woodworth.

The Tuesday CRD meeting won't allow public speakers because it's a continuation of an earlier meeting. A regularly scheduled CRD sewage meeting, with opportunities for the public to speak, is set for Wednesday.


Land-based treatment just moves the problem from ocean to landfill
Dr. Shaun Peck
Times Colonist
November 23, 2012

Victoria's two deep-sea outfalls, each stretching out more than one kilometre into the marine waters of the Victoria Bight, have 70-metre-long diffusers located 60 metres below the ocean surface.

The current engineered deep-sea outfalls were installed in 1972 (Macaulay Point) and 1980 (Clover Point). Fine screens were later added to remove solids.

This system has proved to be very effective in ensuring the effluent is treated by this oxygen-rich marine environment. The perceptions of an adverse effect on the marine environment need to be challenged.

The findings on the ocean floor are of enrichment due to the nutrients in the sewage (with some minimal accumulation of chemicals) and can be compared to the effects observed in land-based composting.

Furthermore, outside a relatively small initial dilution zone, the receiving waters meet the regulated standards for treated effluent that are required by the new federal regulation.

These comments are based on the judgment of 10 marine scientists and two previous deans of science from the University of Victoria's School of Earth and Ocean Sciences.

There is no question that modern engineering technology can process sewage (which is more than 99 per cent water) in many ways.

Whatever technology is used, sludge is created and this has to be treated, using more energy, some of which may be recovered during processing.

A concern of many people is that toxins are being discharged into the ocean. To understand this issue, one must first of all examine each of what is called "chemicals of concern" and ask the questions:

- Can any chemical of concern be removed at source by the Capital Regional District's excellent source-control program?

- Will these chemicals be removed by treatment or will they be discharged into the ocean environment?

- Will any chemicals of concern be concentrated in the sludge and, if so, how will this toxic sludge be disposed of?

In other words, what will be the final fate of the toxins in the environment after sewage treatment? Many chemicals, such as copper, are concentrated in the sewage sludge.

Land-based sewage treatment plants will have an overall adverse effect on the environment when you consider the marine, land and global environments. There will be major physical disruptions of our communities and the land environment, including pipes through Beacon Hill Park and under the harbour entrance, and a 15-kilometre pipe to McLoughlin Point.

There may be climate-change impacts resulting from building the proposed land-based sewage treatment plants. The CRD's consultants estimated that during construction of the land-based sewage-treatment plants, 15,516 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents, or greenhouse gases, would be produced. During operation, the carbon dioxide emissions are estimated at 7,917 tonnes per year.

Although the CRD claims it will be able to obtain greenhouse-gas offsets, the original carbon footprint could be avoided by not building the plants at all.

The World Health Organization has determined that sewage disposal through deep-sea outfalls is appropriate when the receiving waters are able to "autopurify" the effluent as is occurring off Victoria.

Furthermore, the World Bank approves deep-sea discharges of sewage with preliminary or minimal pre-treatment for many cities throughout the world. Victoria's discharge would almost certainly meet current European Union standards.

A cost-benefit study carried out for the Canadian Council of Environment Ministers stated: "In many cases, significant BOD [biochemical oxygen demand] and TSS [total suspended solids] reductions are already in place, and the marginal costs of achieving the proposed standard are very high and are not highly valued by households. In such cases the marginal damage to the environment of existing treatment systems should be assessed to see if in fact they are cost-effective."

If land-based sewage-treatment plants are to be built in the future for Victoria, there are two actions that should first be taken. First, an environmental-impact assessment of the current practice should be done, and any future treatment should be designed to mitigate that environmental impact.

This environmental-impact assessment should be followed by a cost-benefit analysis to determine the appropriate level of treatment, if any additional treatment is required.

- Dr. Shaun Peck was the medical officer of health for the CRD from 1989 to 1995.




Dumping raw effluent in the ocean is irresponsible in this day and age
Usman Khan and Thomas Tiedje And Caterina Valeo

Times Colonist
November 23, 2012

The upcoming federal byelection has helped to revive the debate surrounding the sewage treatment plant for the Capital Regional District.

Opponents of the planned sewage-treatment plant argue that nature takes care of our sewage with natural processes that are uniquely available in the coastal environment of Victoria. They claim that micro-organisms in the oxygen-rich waters rapidly consume the organic waste in sewage and that if there is any material left over, the waste is diluted so much by the strong currents in Juan da Fuca Strait that it does not pose a risk to the environment.

Disposing of waste by dilution has been the waste disposal method of choice for millennia, but it is an antiquated and dangerous notion. Dilution might work if the ocean were infinite, but it is not. Assuming that micro-organisms in the water will render the waste benign is similarly problematic, as we explain.

If sewage consisted of human waste alone, the problem would be easy to solve. But sewage contains, in varying amounts, almost everything that we consume or use in our community. This includes pharmaceuticals, cleaning agents and personal-care products. Source control cannot be used to remove all of these products before they enter our wastewater.

Sewage also contains traces of fire-retardant chemicals, heavy metals, bacteria and organic solvents. Included in these substances are endocrine disruptors, which affect human and marine-animal growth and development, and antibacterial agents.

How persistent are these materials in the environment? Will they end up in the food chain? How do they affect the ecology over the long term? There is so much that we do not know. Scientists do not have the answers yet.

We do know that many of these substances are toxic and that some are persistent in the environment, where they undergo bioaccumulation and bio-magnification, affecting marine animals. We also know that once waste is released into the ocean, it is very hard to capture and can travel long distances.

The CRD's proposed sewage-treatment plant will not remove all of these contaminants of concern, but it will reduce them, and it will be a start. Once the basic infrastructure of the treatment plant is in place, we will be able to implement new remediation technology relatively inexpensively as it becomes available.

Surprisingly, stormwa-ter is often cited by opponents of the sewage treatment plan in Victoria as the "real" problem.

Stormwater runoff is the water that flows off roofs and onto our roads and sidewalks when it rains. As the water drains into the underground stormwater pipe network, it has the ability to pick up sediment, dirt and other potentially harmful materials. These pipes are designed to prevent flooding by carrying runoff away from buildings and houses, and into the strait.

Compared to sewage, stormwater runoff has much lower concentrations of organic material and nutrients, but it can have comparatively larger amounts of sediment, especially during heavy rainfalls.

Managing stormwater runoff is a different issue entirely from sewage treatment, with regard to the types and amount of pollutants present, and how it should be treated. Both problems are important, and both require our attention. But each requires its own management and treatment approaches. The concerns that arise from dumping untreated sewage into the strait will not be addressed by targeting stormwater.

Wastewater treatment and stormwater management are both essential services for a modern city.

Opponents of the sewage treatment plant like to use "science" as the rationale for their point of view.

Given the huge gaps in our knowledge of the effects of ocean pollution on the long-term health of the ocean and our marine food supply, it is foolhardy to argue that the "do nothing" approach will serve our community well in the future. "Do nothing" means that we continue to dump tens of billions of litres of sewage into the ocean every year.

Victoria is the only city in Canada that dumps all of its sewage, untreated. It is time for Victoria to properly address its sewage problem and to demonstrate that it is the responsible regional and global player that its citizens expect it to be.

- Usman Khan is a PhD student of mechanical engineering at the University of Victoria. Thomas Tiedje is dean of UVic's faculty of engineering, and Caterina Valeo is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at UVic.


Norman Ruff
Times Colonist
November 23, 2012

Re: "Byelection caught up in the sewage dispute," Nov 22.

Bravo to columnist Les Leyne for his critical analysis of the Victoria byelection's entanglement with the sewage controversy.

It seems the Liberal, Conservative and even the Green candidate are drinking the same martini - shaken, not treated.

Norman Ruff


Norma Steer
Times Colonist
November 23, 2012

Re: "Water main break forces evacuation in Oak Bay," Nov. 21.

We have serious infrastructure problems with water mains throughout Oak Bay and probably the rest of the region. Workers seem unable to repair these problems within a reasonable time, creating serious costs for taxpayers.

Money that should be spent on rectifying these inadequacies will now be wasted on what will be a redundant system for sewage treatment, which will include large pipes travelling throughout many municipalities.

What makes anyone think that catastrophic problems will not occur with this ridiculous plan? Crises will arise that will not only be exorbitantly costly, but dangerous to human health.

Is the tail wagging the dog here?

Norma Steer
View Royal


Bob Fugger
Times Colonist
November 23, 2012

The implication by Christianne Wilhelmson, executive director of the Georgia Strait Alliance, that opponents to wastewater treatment need to be treated with kid gloves so as not to be frightened by the "bogeyman" is insulting to citizens of the Capital Regional District. Her noblesse oblige attitude that the gospel of secondary treatment be soft-sold to us for our own good should be taken with a grain of salt.

I am against this particular version of secondary wastewater treatment - the boondoggle that this project represents does indeed inspire rational fear into me, fear that property tax increases will mean that many of us won't be able to afford to live in Victoria, fear of the false sense of security that secondary treatment will do anything to remove any of the heavy metals and pharmaceutical residue, which is the real problem, not Mr. Floaties.

If Wilhelmson is firm in her belief that "most people in the CRD agree with us and agree with the CRD plan," then she and CRD officials should put the matter to referendum. With "most people" voting for the CRD's wastewater treatment plan, it will certainly put the matter to bed.

Bob Fugger



Victoria News
November 21, 2012 

Re: Sewage decisions delayed (News, Nov. 16)

Since when does a “mass public turnout” involve 30 public speakers? There’s no indication in the story that there were hundreds, much less thousands at this well-orchestrated protest. To suggest otherwise is misleading and playing into the hands of the small crowd.

Tens of thousands of people support the sewage plan as the right thing to do.

Stan Bartlett



Victoria News
November 20, 2012 

When the most senior organizations of the most knowledgeable nations, namely a committee of Congress and a Royal Commission, both state that long outfalls protect the environment as well or better than secondary treatment, it is appalling that Capital Regional District members still do not acknowledge the fact.

The best overall summary comes from a 1986 article in the Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering, entitled ‘Environmental considerations for ocean outfalls and land-based treatment plants.’

In its conclusion, the report stated, “Provided they are well designed, ocean outfalls generally present fewer environmental problems than land-based treatment and this is obvious when the complete environmental picture is studied for both types of facility.”

So it is.

Ted Dew-Jones




Activist wades into sewage debate, short of backing Green candidate
Rob Shaw
Times Colonist
November 23, 2012

Famed environmentalist David Suzuki says Greater Victoria must stop dumping sewage into the ocean, and he hasn't endorsed the Green party candidate in the riding or the party's position on the sewage issue.

Suzuki clarified his appearance at a Nov. 19 rally of more than 1,300 Green Party of Canada supporters in Victoria this week, saying he was asked by the party to attend. He gave a keynote address about environmental issues.

Many interpreted his presence as an endorsement for candidate Donald Galloway, including, it appears, the candidate himself. A door flyer distributed by the Galloway campaign Thursday read that he is "endorsed by David Suzuki," among others.

But when asked directly whether he endorsed Galloway or the Green party, Suzuki said, "No."

"My position is I'd speak to any group that asked me to speak," he told the Times Colonist in an interview. "If [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper wanted me to speak to the Conservatives, I'd be happy to do that."

Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May said she knows that Suzuki, who is a friend, doesn't feel comfortable making endorsements.

However, he appeared to praise Galloway at the event. "Thank you, Donald, for offering yourself for this very, very tough challenge," Suzuki said at the rally.

"The people are here today, I think, to say they appreciate it. They're going to be all out there beating the doors for you as I will be for [Green Party of B.C. candidate] Andrew Weaver when he runs for office next year."

Suzuki also waded into Greater Victoria's contentious sewage-treatment debate.

The issue of the region's $783-million plan to build a secondary sewage treatment plant in Esquimalt has dominated the byelection.

The only candidate to support the plan has been the NDP's Murray Rankin. Liberal candidate Paul Summerville has called it a "billion-dollar boondoggle." Conservative candidate Dale Gann has said he believes in treatment but that the current plan needs a second look.

Galloway and May have said they support the idea of sewage treatment, but think the proposed facility and system is wrong for the region. May said she thinks she could persuade Suzuki to support the Green position.

Suzuki said it's up to the Green party to explain its position on sewage. He said he doesn't know enough about the specific plan for Greater Victoria to comment on whether it is appropriate.

"My position is you don't use the ocean as a garbage can," Suzuki said. "Even though I know there are scientists at [the University of Victoria] that are saying 'no, no, no, the currents are such that you disperse it,' I just think, as an operating rule, we've got to stop using nature as a toxic dump."

Summerville's Liberal campaign has said Greater Victoria's ocean currents naturally disperse and treat screened sewage.

On that, Suzuki said, he doesn't agree.

"Don't tell me it's all benign, the City of Victoria dumping its sewage into that area," he said. "I'm sorry, but my position is very, very clear: Don't use the ocean as a garbage can, period."

Suzuki stepped down from the board of directors on the David Suzuki Foundation in April, saying he wanted to be able to speak freely without his words being deemed too political for the organization.

The Suzuki foundation supports sewage treatment facilities for Greater Victoria, said John Werring, the foundation's senior science and policy adviser.


ARESST: Halifax Harbour not same marine geography as Juan de Fuca Strait. Leslie ignores issue that HH sewage plants are only advanced primary and will face huge costs if forced to upgrade to new federal secondary-stage standard. 


Megan Leslie recalls Halifax's bid for plant; in Victoria for byelection
Times Colonist
November 23, 2012

The deputy leader of the NDP was in Victoria Thursday to support the party's candidate in the Victoria byelection.

"I'm here to help [Rankin] out on the campaign and ensure he gets to sit beside me in the House of Commons," Megan Leslie said from Rankin's campaign office.

Leslie, a Halifax MP and NDP environment critic, echoed Rankin's call for local sewage treatment.

Halifax used to discharge its sewage into the ocean, as Victoria does now, but a sewage treatment plant was built a few years ago, she said.

"It's something we're pretty proud of," Leslie said. "It was an absolute battle to get it done, [but] not with the community - the community was in full support."

Rankin is keen to have a similar plant built here.

"My opponents have taken the position that they want to dump sewage into the ocean, and I do not," said Rankin, an environmental lawyer for 25 years.

The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Victoria both support a sewage treatment plant, he noted.

"A lot of people have the understanding that we need to get on with it," Rankin said.

The federal government has pledged a third of the funding for the proposed $783-million secondary sewage treatment plant.

New federal wastewater regulations, passed this year, require treatment in the region by 2020.

The province, which has also ordered sewage treatment, has promised up to $248 million.

Rankin opposes the proposed Enbridge pipeline from the Alberta oilsands to Kitimat. He pointed to the grounding this week of a cargo ship in Prince Rupert harbour as "a clear indication, if ever there was one, of the folly of the Enbridge Northern Gateway project and pipeline."

"The inevitability of a spill seems obvious to all," Rankin said. "That's one of the reasons that we are so united as a party and I have taken such a strong position personally in opposition to this project."

Rankin is one of six candidates vying to replace NDP MP Denise Savoie, who retired Aug. 31 citing health reasons. Voting takes place on Monday.


Six candidates are vying for the federal seat for Victoria vacated by NDP MP Denise Savoie:

Donald Galloway, Green party
Dale Gann, Conservative party
Art Lowe, Libertarian party
Philip G. Ney, Christian Heritage party
Murray Rankin, NDP
Paul Summerville, Liberal party Voters go the polls on Monday.



Onus rests with homeowner to find source
Judith Lavoie
Times Colonist
November 23, 2012

The mystery is deepening around the source of oil that leaked from a Saanich home's draintile, but the only way the puzzle will be solved is for the homeowner to play detective on her own dime.

Gina Dolinsky of Adelaide Avenue is already on the hook for thousands of dollars in cleanup costs, as, like most homeowners in Greater Victoria, she was not covered by insurance when oil started running from her property into the Gorge waterway - even though the oil did not originate from her home.

The immediate suspect was a nearby house that had to be demolished after heating oil was mistakenly pumped into a disconnected tank this year.

Tests now indicate that the oil did not come from that property, although Dolinsky said she will be asking an expert for a second opinion.

The tests leave no room for doubt, said Dave Rogers of B.C. Hazmat Management, the environmental cleanup company working on the demolition site.

"There are two distinct fingerprints," he said.

That eliminates any help from Federated Insurance, which is acting for the company that misdelivered the oil.

Now Dolinsky - not the municipality or the province - is responsible for persuading neighbours they should test their properties.

"The underlying philosophy is polluter pay," said Colin Doyle, Saanich's engineering director. "If the pollution is coming from your property, the onus is on you to prove it's not yours and then identify where it comes from."

The municipality does not have the authority to go onto private property looking for oil leaks or underground tanks that have not been properly decommissioned, Doyle said.

"You are responsible for your own property."

A statement from the Environment Ministry says the provincial government's role is to provide oversight for spill cleanups and ensure an appropriate remediation plan is in place.

Dolinsky, with the help of Wittich Environmental Services, tracked some oil to a neighbour's property.

Although the former owner would not let her investigate, the new owner has cooperated and paid $1,100 to clean up the small amount of contamination.

The oil did not originate on his property, said neighbour Gavin Edwards.

"Wittich Environmental found faint traces in the area, where it crosses to Gina's property," he said.

"It could have originated to the east or north, but, unless people are willing to do a search right up the hill, we won't know."

That's the problem, said Dolinsky, who is hoping the Gorge Tillicum Community Association will help persuade neighbours to have their properties tested.

"I hope we can work together because this is an oil spill in our neighbourhood and we haven't found the source yet. Who knows where it came from and if it's going to flow on to someone else's property. We need to find it and clean it up."

Rob Fleming, NDP environment critic, said B.C. has good cleanup laws, but weak legislation when it comes to preventing spills.

"We have all these aging oil tanks and they are really putting homeowners at risk," he said. "Some people, through no fault of their own, are liable, and it can ruin people."


Saanich has produced a new brochure giving tips on oil tank safety and providing emergency numbers. Suggestions include:

Check the tank after every fuel delivery.

Protect the fuel line between the tank and heating system.

Look for rust, particularly where legs are welded to the tank. Clean off rust and apply rustproof paint.

Watch for leaks in the fuel filter or a plugged nozzle.

Ask your supplier to visually inspect the fuel line for leaks.

Keep a spill kit handy.

Watch for unexplained increases in oil use.

Keep the tank full over the summer to reduce water condensation.

When replacing a tank, don't reuse the old oil.

Service annually and replace the oil filter.

If the tank is decommissioned, ensure all piping is removed or capped.

In case of a spill, call the Emergency Management B.C. Co-ordination Centre at 1-800663-3456

For more information, go to spills.html


Even a gold-plated insurance policy is unlikely to offer protection if someone's home heating oil leaks onto neighbouring properties, says Eric Hartley, owner of Bill Hartley Insurance Services.

Some policies cover damage to the owner's home if there is a leak - and every home owner should check their individual policy - but almost no policies cover damage to other properties, he said.

"They usually exclude oil spills or other sorts of pollution," Hartley said.

"Homeowners are vulnerable, and we try to encourage all homeowners to replace their oil tanks regularly."

The oil spill exclusion tends to be an industry standard, probably because of the potential cost, Hartley said. "But stuff still happens - like oil companies filling a tank by mistake."

A report by the University of Victoria's Environmental Law Centre found that all but one of the companies offering homeowner policies in Victoria have pollution exclusion clauses.

"Even when insurance was in place, one court found that the presence of the leak amounted to an inherent defect in the property, rather than an incident giving rise to a valid insurance claim," the report says.

"Many property owners are ill-informed about the risks associated with home heating oil systems and the potentially disastrous costs associated with their failure."

Judith Lavoie



Victoria News
November 23, 2012

All six candidates in the Nov. 26 Victoria federal byelection have offered their thoughts on sewage treatment for the Capital Region, in one forum or another in recent weeks.

If you missed hearing it in person, you can read their views on the issue on this newspaper’s website or printed in our candidate survey (page A10).

It’s not surprising that all of the candidates have hitched their campaign wagons to the do-it-now or wait-till-it-gets-bad camps on sewage treatment. It’s an acknowledgement by would-be MPs and their promoters that public awareness on the issue is as high as it has been since pro-treatment character Mr. Floatie achieved international notoriety.

A cynic might say those trying to gain office are simply taking advantage of the momentum being built by local politicians who question the logic of building a nearly $800-million facility, rather than holding off until damage to the marine environment becomes significant.

On the other hand, an optimist – one who also questions the decision to spend that kind of money on secondary treatment – might say it’s a good thing if a broader light can be shed on the marine science that has seemingly been ignored in this whole affair.

Five years ago, we encouraged all affected levels of government to give the science a more thorough evaluation. We continue to hold the view that research on the impact to the marine environment is incomplete.

With party leaders and other influential MPs campaigning with Victoria byelection candidates the past couple of weeks – all but Green leader Elizabeth May are from back east – we hope the whys of sewage treatment gain a higher profile in Ottawa in the near future.

That may not prompt the Conservative government to rethink its ban on dumping untreated sewage into the ocean, but it may buy cash-strapped Capital Region residents some time before we have to start shelling out for a treatment facility.


Times Colonist
November 24, 2012

CEO Rob Gialloreto says the organization's board passed a motion at a meeting last week to write a clear position on the issue.

"The position will say something to the effect that we wholeheartedly support sewage treatment. And we want to make sure we're responsible for our environment, but also our residents," he said.

Some tourism operators have expressed worry that Greater Victoria's practice of discharging screened sewage into the ocean could hurt tourism - especially from Washington state - and the region's image. But Gialloreto said he hasn't heard any specific concerns recently.

Whether the region's $783-million sewage treatment plan is appropriate for the region remains a matter of considerable public debate.

The plan calls for a single secondary treatment facility at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt by 2018.

Gialloreto said Tourism Victoria doesn't want to wade into specifics about the plan, or the scientific debate.

"From our understanding, we believe in sewage treatment," he said. "Beyond that, we continue to monitor ... and talk to all the players, and we'll see how that goes.

We want to be really careful because it's not our business to talk scientifically."


Les Leyne
Times Colonist
November 24, 2012

There's been intense philosophical speculation about what constitutes an endorsement, since colleague Rob Shaw outlined how David Suzuki tried to climb off the Green Party bandwagon.

It was another confounding moment leading up to Monday's byelection vote. The contest has forced candidates into some pretty contorted positions. And most of them involve finding a way to square environmental leanings and previous party promises with the fact voters are cold to the idea of paying for sewage treatment.

Suzuki was the latest to stretch himself out of shape in the campaign. He showed up at a big Green Party rally earlier in the week. He said nice things about Green candidate Donald Galloway.

The CBC personality delivered a set speech about defending the environment, of the kind that's turned him into a national icon.

Then he localized the focus. "I hope to provide you with why you're here and what the job is now. The job is to go out and start raising these issues.

And see which candidates for office are actually going to confront the kind of issues that the Greens understand to their very DNA and their core.

"So again, thank you, Don (Galloway), thank you, Donald, for offering yourself for this very tough challenge. The people are here today, I think, to say they appreciate it."

It was an obvious political rally, and Suzuki was enthusiastic about how Greens understand the kind of issues he cares about "to their very DNA and their core." He didn't appear at any other party's events.

Galloway's campaign understood his appearance to be an endorsement. So they whipped up a leaflet listing Suzuki as an endorser.

Then some curiosity developed about how a famous environmentalist came to back an environmental candidate who thinks the current plan for sewage treatment is an "economic nightmare."

Greens a few years ago were ardent in demanding the Capital Regional District start treating its sewage. But things have changed. Galloway's position is that the city doesn't need to worry about sewage, and the current plan for a solution is unsustainable.

Shaw tracked down Suzuki a few days later about the appearance and a new position emerged. It turns out Suzuki is actually reluctant to make personal endorsements and didn't feel he was endorsing Galloway.

And on the topic of sewage treatment, Suzuki deferred on some of the local details, but stressed that he favours treatment.

"I just think, as an operating rule, we've got to stop using nature as a toxic dump," he said.

It's a good thing he retroactively rescinded his apparent endorsement. Because Galloway's stand is completely the opposite.

The candidate says "nature plays a different role breaking down organic particles," so Victoria doesn't face the same problem other cities do.

Suzuki says we can't use nature as a dump. Galloway says nature is managing the dump adequately.

It's remarkable to see an environmental party advocating a slowdown on what it used to consider an environmental problem of the first order.

But Greens aren't the only ones who have retreated. The federal Liberals and Conservatives have also backed away from former stands in favour of proceeding with treatment plans. The Conservative candidate even pulled off the retreat in the middle of the campaign.

They're managing this stand even while a half-billion dollars in federal and provincial funding sits on the table, waiting for nervous local politicians to commit to signing on.

The byelection campaign has been a good warm-up for the provincial election campaign next spring, when the same issue will likely dominate in the south Island.

Whether Suzuki makes another appearance there seems to be an open question.

Although he doesn't consider his Green appearance this week as an endorsement and prefers not to make them, he explicitly promised upcoming support to Oak Bay-Gordon Head Green candidate Andrew Weaver.

His parting words to Galloway at the rally were: "They're going to be all out there beating the doors for you, as I will be for Andrew Weaver when he runs for office next year."

That sounds like an endorsement, too. And Weaver is on the same page as the federal candidate in wanting the current sewage-treatment plan delayed. Maybe they can get their positions straight by next spring.



Frank Stanford
CFAX 1070
Nov 20 2012
I wonder why our regional politicians have refused to consider expropriation as a means of limiting the cost of a land based sewage treatment project?

You've heard the there is no site available on the waterfront that's large enough for a treatment and biosolids the proposed solution is pipe sewage sludge more than ten kilometres under the streets and highways to the Hartland Avenue landfill for processing.  So the taxpayer pipes sewage to the ocean...and then back up the hill...simply because the only site available on the waterfront is too small.

Why is nobody talking about making it bigger?  Buy some land next door.  Or find a larger site and buy it.  It can't cost more than 13 kilometres of underground pipe. 

Supposedly the CRD had its eye on a piece of property on the upper harbour at one point, but didn't move on it.  It wasn't for sale.  That's why the expropriation option exists.

I can understand a certain reluctance to use it.  Politicians don't set out to annoy people deliberately and unnecessarily.  If expropriation was hauled out frivolously the backlash would be significant, and rightly so.  But this isn't a frivolous matter.  Advocates argue that it's a "must-do", no matter the cost, no matter how reluctant some taxpayers might be to undertake it.  

Seems to me that's exactly what expropriation is for:  to acquire land when it is necessary to fulfill a public need that supercedes private interests.  If this tool can help deliver a project that makes more sense than the one that's currently on the table it ought to be used.