July 21, 2013

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- Richard's analysis of Esquimalt rezone decision
Action: Submit your response to Capital Regional District Harbours Vision Survey
John Farquharson interview on Shaw

Editorial: Province should help fix the mess
- McLoughlin Point, pushes issue to province
- Chris Corps' CFAX interview
CRD losing ground in sewage debate
Andrew Weaver comment in legislature
CTV coverage of the Esquimalt Decision 15 July
Esquimalt Councillor Morrison CBC interview


- Hartland landfill sewage plan not a crazy idea (Ahlgren)
Esquimalt’s move likened to brat in a sandbox (Deacon)
Province not to blame for CRD-Esquimalt mess (Ferri)
- Combine sewage plant, highway interchange (Furry)
High-water mark affects sewage plant (Gilbert)
Don’t greet visitors with sewage plant (Shaw-Ringham)



Note that Item #8 report on Biosolids Energy Centre Siting states that if the sewage sludge centre isn't completed before the McLoughlin treatment plant, sewage would have to be  trucked (from McLoughlin) to a disposal location (page 2). 


Notice of Special Meeting on Wednesday, 
July 24, 2013, at 11:30 a.m.

5. Core Area Wastewater Infrastructure Upgrade Projects for 2013


6. Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program & Budget Update


7. Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program – Land Tenure Agreements Update


8. Biosolids Energy Centre Siting (CAL 13-17)



Richard's analysis of Esquimalt rezone decision

Richard Atwell
Facebook posting
July 15

At tonight's Council meeting where Esquimalt unanimously rejected the CRD's 2805 rezoning bylaw, Mayor Desjardins read from this 2007 letter from Barry Penner, former Minister of Environment:

The Mayor listed about 5 objective the Minister expected of the CRD as it prepared to submit a sewage plan to him.

Let's see how the CRD's plan compares to the list:

1. Meet the regulatory standard for liquid waste.

Well, it was doing this before Penner said improve your system with a vague order.

2. Minimize total project cost to the taxpayer by minimizing economic and financial benefits, including beneficial reuse of resources and generation of offsetting revenue.

That's a bust. We now know the cost is really $2.8 billion and the predicted resource revenues in 2030 (not 2018 when the part goes online) is only $3m.

3. Optimize the distribution of infrastructure based on number 2 above.

Virtually no one lives as McLoughlin or Hartland.

4. Aggressively pursue opportunities to minimize and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (eg. reduced requirement of energy pumping purposes, and beneficial re-use of energy).

The Ministry approved of Amendment No.8 which includes about 23km of force mains and pumping stations.

5. Optimize 'smart growth' results (e.g. district services, density, 'Dockside Green' like innovation.


6. Examine the opportunity to save money, transfer risk and add value through a public private partnership.

The Sewage Treatment Action Group's submission the the three Auditor Generals indicates that the P3 is actually more expensive and it was Partnerships BC that overruled the CRD on the calculations that favoured a P3.

Yikes! I wonder how much these letters that don't mean a damn actually cost the taxpayer to write.


Action: Submit your response to Capital Regional District Harbours Vision Survey

The CRD is asking for our concerns and ideas about how these waters should be managed into the future. 

How do you feel about the proliferation of trespass moorage of vessels in the Gorge, for instance? What is your vision for the Gorge 20 years from now? 

On the Songhees shore of the middle harbour, do you support the proposed mega-yacht marina? What about the mix of industrial and commercial uses? 

Is the use of McLoughlin Point for a sewage treatment plant appropriate for that prominent site at the entrance to the outer harbour?

Have your say! It takes only a few minutes to fill out the survey. If you have additional comments please use the "other" option on the survey.



Jack Etkin interviewed John Farquharson on SHAW TV's Citizen's Forum 2 July:


John was instrumental in making sure that the Viewfield Biosolids Open Houses were truly open and recounts the events from a couple of weeks ago.

Length: 18min


Editorial: Province should help fix the mess

JULY 17, 2013
Victoria’s sewage project is in crisis again, and the provincial government’s chickens are coming home to roost. On Monday night, Esquimalt council voted down the Capital Regional District’s zoning request for the proposed McLoughlin Point treatment plant.

Council instead passed its own version of the bylaw, which the CRD says is unworkable.

That means the $783-million project lands back in the lap of the provincial government, where newly minted Environment Minister Mary Polak says she has no intention of intervening. Good luck with that.

CRD chairman Alastair Bryson is expected to ask for a meeting with Polak shortly.

The environment minister inherits a controversy that has riven Greater Victoria for years — and her own government has to shoulder a large measure of blame.

The CRD proposed a rezoning that included $1 million in amenities for the municipality, such as electrical and firefighting upgrades, a public walkway, and road and bike-lane improvements. It would also include a sewage-education centre, which is unlikely to be a big draw for Esquimalt residents, who have had plenty of education on sewage in the past few years.

In response, Esquimalt council approved a bylaw that demands building a new pier and barging all construction materials to minimize road traffic, a $75,000 public open space, odour-reduction technology and an annual contribution of $55,000 to an amenity fund. The CRD says those demands are beyond Esquimalt’s authority.

By passing that bylaw, Esquimalt has signalled it will accept the treatment plant, if the price is right.

With the two bodies at loggerheads, Polak is going to be drawn into the controversy, whether she likes it or not.

“We have the authority to step in, if need be,” she said just after being appointed. “But again, our preference is that they resolve these things between themselves.”

They didn’t resolve things between themselves, which was probably inevitable because of the provincial authority that Polak noted.

It was the province that ordered the region to develop a sewage-treatment plan, something the local politicians would probably have avoided, as their predecessors had avoided it for decades. Early in the process, the provincial government, which is paying one-third of the cost, made it clear that it had the power to override municipal decisions to ensure the project went ahead.

By making that pronouncement, the government created an environment where the people in the trenches would be unlikely to co-operate. With the province looming in the background, everyone knew that they could stand their ground and let the government make the final decision. Polak insisted on Tuesday that they have to work it out themselves, but that isn’t going to happen.

As in an ancient Greek play, the actors want Polak to become the deus ex machina, the god who descends from a machine to determine everyone’s fate. Chances are good that it won’t be a happy ending.

It was unfair for the B.C. Liberals to come down on the region like a tonne of bricks, order a sewage plan and then step away, saying: “You go do it.”

It set up the local governments for the years of acrimony we have all suffered. If, instead, the province had acted more like a partner or a helper, it might have avoided pitting municipalities against the CRD.

As it stands, not only has Esquimalt handed the province one hot potato, it has added a second by passing a motion asking B.C. and the federal government to stop funding for the project until an independent audit is done.

With some wisdom and diplomacy, the government might be able to cool the tempers and find a workable compromise. The B.C. Liberals had a hand in creating this mess; they should help clean it up.


McLoughlin Point, pushes issue to province

JULY 15, 2013
A sewage-treatmenet facility is proposed for McLoughlin Point.  Photograph by: ADRIAN LAM, Times Colonist
The B.C. government will have to decide the future of a sewage-treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt, after a town council vote Monday night put the community at loggerheads with the Capital Regional District.

Esquimalt refused to pass the CRD’s rezoning application to build a sewage-treatment facility at McLoughlin.

Instead, council passed its own alternate bylaw by a vote of five to two. It allows the CRD to build at McLoughlin only if the regional government offers more amenities, barges all construction material to the site to avoid traffic and safety problems and pays $55,000 a year into an amenity fund.

The CRD has already called Esquimalt’s proposal legally unworkable.

Esquimalt councillors acknowledged the move will bring the provincial government into the dispute, but said recent public hearings showed there’s no public support for the CRD’s proposal.

The province could overrule Esquimalt and force the plant onto McLoughlin on the CRD’s terms.

However, most Esquimalt councillors said they hope the province will see their alternate bylaw as a starting point for negotiation, and involve the town in future decisions.

Coun. Tim Morrison said he couldn’t support something that felt like “a gun is being held to your head saying you have to do this out of fear.

“[The CRD] will go to the province, there’s no question about that,” said Morrison, who voted against rezoning.

“But what the CRD neglects to understand is that the province may not oblige. Be careful what you ask for, I say of the CRD. The province may not like what it sees.”

Passing its own zoning conditions “gives us more leverage with the province,” said Coun. Meagan Brame.

Coun. Dave Hodgins also refused to support rezoning for sewage.

“I’m not prepared, based on how many amenities might be achieved, to compromise my values or my ethics,” Hodgins said. “They are not for sale. And therefore I will not support.”

Mayor Barb Desjardins said rejecting all rezoning would put the town in a “precarious” position with the province.

“Is the CRD bylaw acceptable? No, absolutely not. That was absolutely clear from the public. I don’t know why the CRD would think that they could decide what was best for Esquimalt without our input, our agreement or negotiation.”

CRD chairman Alastair Bryson said he will likely request a meeting with the environment minister on the issue.

McLoughlin Point, at the entrance to the Inner Harbour, used to be an oil-tanker site before the CRD purchased it for a treatment plant.

The CRD’s rezoning bid offered more than $1 million in amenities to Esquimalt, such as upgrades to local electrical and firefighting services, a public walkway, road and bike-lane improvements and a sewage-education centre.

Cash compensation wasn’t offered because of legal advice, the CRD has said.

Esquimalt’s version set several extra hurdles for the CRD.

It calls for mandatory barging of construction materials and a new pier. It also calls for a public open space worth at least $75,000 that includes a children’s playground, a public walkway, reclaimed water use, underground utilities, top-level odour reduction technology and $55,000 a year for a McLoughlin Point Amenity Reserve Fund.

The CRD has said the town lacks the authority to dictate such terms.

The CRD sewage-treatment project is budgeted at $783 million, and expected to be online by 2018.

Esquimalt council also unanimously passed a motion asking the provincial and federal governments to halt funding and the tendering process for the CRD sewage project until an independent audit is completed.


Chris Corps' CFAX interview

If you missed Chris Corp's bombshell 2pm interview on CFAX today with Frank Stanford have a listen:

Chris is an economist and has pegged the cost at $2.8 billion using the CRD's own numbers! The monthly bill will be at least double the CRD estimates.



CRD losing ground in sewage debate

Simon Natrass
Victoria News
July 17, 2013

On Monday, Esquimalt council refused the Capital Regional District’s proposal to rezone McLoughlin Point as the future home of the region’s long-awaited sewage treatment facility. The CRD’s proposal would have seen the creation of a processing plant, integration of a public walkway and improvements to surrounding infrastructure.

Instead, Esquimalt endorsed its own plans for the site, including mandatory barging of construction materials into the site, additional public facilities and yearly cash contributions for further improvements to the area – a plan already declared impossible by the CRD. The CRD has the option to appeal to the province to override Esquimalt’s decision, and both critics and supporters have already pointed to this as the most likely course of events.

This isn’t the first time the CRD has found itself in deep sewage over its handling of this project, now nearly a decade in the making. Since day one, critics have cast doubt on everything from prospective designs to the necessity of secondary treatment itself.

At this point there can be little doubt that simply flushing raw sewage into the Strait of Juan De Fuca – along with the detergents, road runoff, antibiotics and other chemicals it contains – is a bad idea. However, anyone who has been keeping up with the news can tell you that critics of the $783 million project won’t be running out of complaints any time soon.

In a recent example, earlier this month the CRD abandoned plans to build a sludge plant on 1.5 hectares of land nestled in Esquimalt’s industrial park. During last-minute public consultation on the idea, folks from across the region made their opposition abundantly clear when citizens turned out in droves to issue their vociferous condemnation. Unfortunately, the CRD had already purchased the Viewfield Road site in secret for a cool $17 million – a blunder for which taxpayers are footing the bill.

Opposition to the CRD’s plan has been vicious, and supporters have often responded in kind. Criticism from both citizens and politicians has been met with derision or dismissal by the project’s creators, and even within the halls of power representatives from half the region’s municipalities have had concerns repeatedly ignored by politicians and administrators in favour of the current plan.

Adding more fuel to the fire, earlier this month Esquimalt council demanded the resignation of CRD vice-chair Denise Blackwell after she publicly criticized the municipality’s opposition to current sewage treatment plans. Soon after, CRD chair Alastair Bryson politely declined the opportunity to dismiss Blackwell, expressing his “full confidence in (her role) in the CRD.”

After denying the CRD’s proposal on Monday, Esquimalt issued its own plea to the province, this time asking that the government place all funding for sewage treatment on hold until an independent audit of the entire project is completed. Should the municipality’s request go unheard, Saanich Coun. and longtime sewage treatment critic Vic Derman plans to bring forward a similar motion for consideration by the CRD board, demanding “an extensive, independent review of the current project” before any further work is done.

In its selection of the Viewfield sludge plant site, the CRD ignored public opinion until the last minute. In the rush to break ground at McLoughlin Point, it ignored Esquimalt council and again dismissed public outcry. Even if the CRD succeeds in appealing to the province to force sewage treatment forward in its current form, this week’s events have made it clear that opposition will continue to grow until the district finds some much-needed humility.

- Simon Nattrass’ opinion column appears Fridays in this newspaper and at vicnews.com.



Richard Atwell
15 July facebook

Weaver again in the Leg, this time questioning the CSCD Minister, Coralee Oaks in a committee:


A. Weaver: In the last week's session with the Ministry of Environment I posed the question as to the availability of funds before, during or after the completion of construction of the Victoria sewage plant. The reason why I raise the question, of course, was during the election campaign it was alluded to — the possibility that funds would only be made available at the end of the construction phase. So my question to the minister: will funds be available before, during or after the construction of the sewage treatment plant in Victoria?

Hon. C. Oakes: Thank you very much for coming forward to estimates and posing this question. The province has committed to contributing one-third of the eligible cost, to a maximum of $248 million, dependent on the completion of all project components. This represents approximately one-third of the eligible capital cost as determined by the CRD in 2010.
To ensure that this project meets its goals and its objectives and to protect the provincial interests and the taxpayers of British Columbia, the provincial contribution will be made at substantial completion and after final commissioning of the entire wastewater system.

A. Weaver: As alluded to by the Minister of Environment, there's some flexibility as to the December 31 deadline for completion towards the federal mandated date of 2020. Will the funds still be available at the said level, or will there be additional funds in light of the fact that costs will arise after that time?

Hon. C. Oakes: Our funding currently is capped on this particular project, but we welcome that the CRD can come forward and request an extension of this money, and we would address that at such time.

A. Weaver: If the federal government were to grant an exemption of the 2020 deadline, would funds be available post 2020 were there to be put forward a plan by the CRD to develop a tertiary treatment in the years ahead?

Hon. C. Oakes: At this point, the federal government hasn't indicated that there is any change to this. So the expectation at this point for this project is that $248 million is looking at occurring in fiscal 2017-2018 and fiscal 2018-2019. Again, if the CRD wishes to come forward and make a request, we are open to that. But of course, that's a financial treasury decision as well.


CTV coverage of the Esquimalt Decision 15 July:


The Minister did the right thing. She's a good choice for this portfolio.


Esquimalt Councillor Morrison CBC interview

Audio of Morrison's CBC interview from Tuesday morning explaining what Council decided at the July 15th Council meeting:


Letter-writer Ahlgren may love long sewage pipelines to Hartland (below), but he doesn't like distributed sewage treatment (http://www.timescolonist.com/small-sewage-plants-investigated-by-crd-1.175487) Of course, Tyler ignores issue that Richmond may or may not have a lot of well water pumped anywhere near its pipelines but Hartland sure does.

- Send your letters to Victoria News using online form: http://goo.gl/bD7kY

Hartland landfill sewage plan not a crazy idea (Ahlgren)

Victoria News
July 17, 2013

Opponents claim pumping sewage sludge to Hartland landfill is a crazy idea, bound to create all kinds of serious problems.

Is putting sewage in pipes and pumping it from one place to another in a city such a new and unusual idea? Well, if you stop to think about it, all houses, hotels, businesses and public facilities are connected to a sewage system.

In Metro Vancouver, there are approximately 15,000 kilometres of pipes in its system.

Is it unusual to have pumps in a municipal sewage system to pump raw sewage great distances?

The City of Richmond  operates 163 sewage pump stations that pumps its sewage to Metro Vancouver for treatment.

So, as you can tell, the 17 kilometres of sewage piping proposed for the Hartland option is not so unusual.

Once again, we see that the opponents are spreading misinformation in their goals to “Stop a Bad Plan.” It would be more helpful if people with concerns did a bit of research. It isn’t as if, for example, the City of Richmond’s systems are a big secret.

Tyler Ahlgren



Esquimalt’s move likened to brat in a sandbox (Deacon)

JULY 19, 2013

Re: “B.C. reluctant to wade in,” July 17.

Why does it come as no surprise that Esquimalt council has rejected the Capital Regional District’s rezoning application and has instead proposed its own zoning restrictions? This latest episode is nothing more than the spoiled brat in the sandbox who won’t share toys with the others.

It should have been abundantly clear to council during the recent public hearings that area residents have had enough of the bickering, given that only 500 people attended versus the total population of approximately 17,000.

As an Esquimalt resident, I, too, have concerns about the proposed location, given its proximity to the cruise-ship terminal. But for Coun. Meagan Brame to say that passing council’s own zoning conditions “gives us more leverage with the province” is downright ludicrous.

Environment Minister Mary Polak has stated clearly that she does not want to use her leverage and force the issue and instead is urging both sides to come together and reach an amicable agreement. We all know from past experience with the policing fiasco of a few years ago that if the province steps in, Esquimalt won’t like the results.

It’s time for both the CRD and Esquimalt to just grow up and stop acting like spoiled brats.

Al Deacon


Province not to blame for CRD-Esquimalt mess (Ferri)

JULY 20, 2013
Re: “Province should help fix the mess,” editorial, July 17.

It’s totally unreasonable to lay the blame on the provincial government for the inability of the Capital Regional District to meet Esquimalt’s reasonable demands for rezoning of McLoughlin Point for sewage treatment. The current “mess” is the CRD’s doing.

The province simply ordered the region to proceed with land-based sewage treatment to meet upcoming provincial and federal regulations. Records show that the region had been looking at this for over 25 years and should have been prepared.

The CRD set the budget for the project in 2010 (with no room for amenities) together with a working plan (Amendment 8) and did nothing until this year. They suddenly broke into the current panic, insisting on ramming through a new sludge plant at Viewfield Road and proceeding with contract procurement before respecting the re-zoning process of the host community. This was all couched in needing to secure provincial and federal funding, which will likely not disappear.

The CRD had three years to apply for rezoning at McLoughlin Point, yet chose to do nothing. Perhaps they were pinning their hopes on obtaining land at Macaulay Point, but records show they have been consistently denied any DND land for sewage treatment since 1993. Why keep asking?

Esquimalt’s demands for rezoning of McLoughlin Point are completely within the legal framework of the CRD. The problem here was poor planning and lack of political will.

Why would any provincial government want to touch this mess?

Filippo Ferri


Combine sewage plant, highway interchange (Furry)

JULY 20, 2013
Re: “Province should help fix the mess,” editorial, July 17.

It is obvious that the Capital Regional District and local municipal governments, especially Esquimalt, are not going to be able to solve the sewage treatment plant on their own.

What is not apparent is whether all options for locating the treatment facility within the CRD have been examined.

Has the CRD asked its staff to consider combining the sewage treatment plant with the long overdue interchange at McKenzie Avenue-Admirals Road and the Trans-Canada Highway?

This possibility would allow for the design of the interchange to take into account the increased truck traffic that would be created by the treatment plant, build the desperately needed interchange to alleviate pressures on the Trans-Canada Highway, provide some of the energy requirements for Victoria General Hospital, Spectrum High School or a combination thereof and avoid the increased traffic that would be caused by putting the facility at Hartland.

This appears to be a win-win solution.

Robert Furry


High-water mark affects sewage plant (Gilbert)

JULY 18, 2013

Denise Blackwell of the Capital Regional District’s sewage committee has responded to Esquimalt’s bylaw (2806) that approves sewage treatment on McLoughlin Point. In her words, the bylaw has “unworkable” setback requirements.

Bylaw 2806 requires an eight-metre setback from high water. Yet, according to provincial public-safety guidelines, the setback should be 15 metres from the expected high-water mark. Note that is 15 metres from the “expected” high-water line.

Provincial guidelines say to use a high-water mark that is at least one metre higher than it is now. But sea levels are rising faster than expected just a few years ago, so caution suggests a two- or three-metre high-water mark. The CRD atlas shows McLoughlin Point is just five to seven metres above the current high-water mark.

For years, experts and the public have been telling the CRD that McLoughlin Point is the wrong site to treat the entire region’s sewage. The CRD should not put the system at risk in this single location.

Experts have offered viable alternatives, yet the CRD does not listen.

Bryan Gilbert



Don’t greet visitors with sewage plant (Shaw-Ringham)

JULY 19, 2013
Re: “Esquimalt refuses CRD plan for sewage,” July 16.

I appreciate reporter Rob Shaw’s summary of the Esquimalt council decisions in regard to a proposed sewage plant at McLoughlin Point. What he wrote, to me, is pretty accurate.

However, he failed to include one of the most important points. That is that the people of Esquimalt, mainly because we have been most confronted by the pending plan, finally realize that the Capital Regional District’s decision to situate an over-sized sewage building on probably the last piece of prime harbour-front real estate is all wrong.

Think, please, of the opportunities here to build something beautiful and profound that we can, as a region and country, be proud of. Think Sydney Opera House, Statue of Liberty, Golden Gate Bridge! Think not: “Welcome to Canada and the Victoria region. On your left is our over-sized sewage plant!”

Lynn Shaw-Ringham