August 18, 2013

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Iain Hunter: Regional districts go against the grain
Despite protests, Greater Victoria sewage plan marches on
Comment: Sewage-treatment planning shouldn’t be rushed (MLA Weaver)
Derman will keep trying to get outside review of sewage treatment project
All 24 members of CRD board should vote on sewage motion, councillor says
Politicians face another vote on whether to put sewage plan on hold


Let’s sell our sludge to be treated elsewhere (Broughton)
Sewage ‘quick fix’ not the answer (Brown)




August 14, 2013 CRD Board Presentation from STAG


Here's my interview with Ian Jessop on CFAX from yesterday (Aug 15):

After my recap of Wed's events at the CRD, a spirited debate ensued with caller James who said he represented the other side but not the CRD when questioned by the host.

Towards the end of the interview, there was some agreement that untreated overflows are not acceptable and I hope the knowledge that was shared will propagate through that community who have been supportive of the plan but have been unaware of the details.

These details are published and 3 years old now in some formats.

I suspect some CRD Directors like Judy Brownoff has such a great reliance on staff for the details, that what I revealed has completely escaped her notice and that of the Directors she controls.



Iain Hunter: Regional districts go against the grain

AUGUST 18, 2013
Last week, Preston Manning, the former leader of the Reform Party, said that not enough attention is paid to local government. As the level of government closest to the people, he said, it reveals a lot about the state of democracy in Canada.

Manning might have been looking over the Rockies. B.C. has a system of regional government, unique in Canada, that usurps some of the functions of municipalities.

It’s supposed to provide flexible, voluntary, consensual, bottom-up governance based on co-operation for mutual benefit, but doesn’t always work that way.

It assumes that local elected representatives know what’s best for their electors and will cast aside rivalries to undertake activities for mutual benefit. Dan Campbell, the Social Credit minister of municipal affairs in the ’60s, championed it as an alternative to imposed municipal amalgamation.

It occurred to me then that setting up another level of government might be a way of insulating provincial governments from local and regional conflicts, a way of allowing them to issue orders for others to carry out, to avoid responsibilities and put bureaucratic control over local democracy.

I can think of two examples where this seems to have transpired. One is the Greater Victoria sewage-treatment fiasco. The other is the threat to Shawnigan Lake’s watershed by a proposed contaminated-soil dump.

Environment Minister Mary Polak won’t get involved in the dispute between the Capital Regional District majority, which wants to put a sewage treatment “facility” at McLoughlin Point, and the Township of Esquimalt, which lacks the voting weight to protect itself.

It would be wrong to intervene in “a matter that should be solved at the local level,” Polak says. Even though the “matter” has been caused by arbitrary deadlines set by the provincial government.

Despite the efforts of Vic Derman, a Saanich councillor on the Core Area Waste Committee, the project is going ahead without any independent cost/benefit or environmental analysis.

The majority of CRD directors are determined to stick to a scheme that doesn’t assure environmental benefit and won’t wait for more efficient and cheaper technologies on the horizon.

They accept, without question, the provincial government’s stand that we all face an environmental and public health emergency, which we don’t. They listen to a clown named Mr. Floatie, but not to a councillor elected by the people of Saanich.

They insist on piggybacking sewage treatment on a system of pipes and pumps never designed for treatment. As Derman says, this fiasco “has likely served to lessen public confidence in the capability and viability of regional government.”

Let’s move up to Shawnigan Lake where, unlike the CRD, the Cowichan Valley district hasn’t the authority or muscle to protect the water that supplies the cottagers there, because this function hasn’t been “mandated” by the province. It’s up to a provincial government bureaucrat to decide whether the risks of a contaminated soil dump on the creek are “minimized” enough to be acceptable.

This faceless official’s job is to assess it as an engineering issue, though the fuss raised by locals has brought cautious intervention from provincial health officials.

Bruce Fraser, the CVRD director for Shawnigan Lake, says the ability of one government official to impose a highly unpopular decision on a community is a “failure of governance.” It certainly seems to violate the declared purpose of regional districts.

Some regional directors, from what used to be called unorganized areas, are elected directly. Some are appointed by municipal councils. But Nils Jensen wasn’t elected mayor of Oak Bay to worry about tsunami preparedness in Sooke. Derman wasn’t elected in Saanich to help solve Oak Bay’s deer problem.

The voluntary, co-operative, flexible approach is fine in principle. But it is allowed to go only so far. Bureaucrats designed the system, and bureaucrats have to show regional directors the ropes.

Local politicians, though, respect the wishes and concerns of people who elect them. That’s the vital, democratic aspect.

It’s down the drain in Victoria and up the creek at Shawnigan.


Despite protests, Greater Victoria sewage plan marches on

Daniel Palmer
Victoria News
August 16, 2013 2:24 PM

Capital Regional District directors once again shut down a motion by naysayers Wednewsday to pull the reins on the region's secondary sewage treatment project.

Saanich Coun. Vic Derman put forward a motion for an independent review of the plan and extension of the compliance deadline, both in an effort to appease many residents who feel their concerns have not been heard.

The motion was defeated by directors 10-4, or 41-14 when weighted for population size.

Two disparate perspectives seem to be solidifying among local politicians. A majority of directors are publicly committed to the current plan because of a strict federally mandated compliance deadline of 2020 and the fear of losing federal and provincial funding, or two-thirds of the project's $783-million price tag.

On the other side, a minority of directors that include Derman, View Royal Mayor Graham Hill, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton and Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins believe public confidence in the project continues to erode due to poor consultation.

"There is huge concern in the general public in terms of trust, confidence and confusion as to what the heck is going on," Desjardins said.

"And we're not doing ourselves any service down at CRD by not taking a pause, making sure we've answered those questions, and getting communities to come onside. You do that by understanding and by listening to them."

The CRD is well into its request for proposals process for a wastewater treatment plant at McLoughlin Point, scheduled for completion by 2016. Esquimalt has made that process more dubious by tweaking zoning approval to encourage commercial, residential and amenity development on the site in conjunction with the CRD project.

In a statement released last week, CRD chair Alistair Bryson said alternative sewage treatment options have already been considered and deemed to be too costly, and an appointed seven-person commission of unelected officials is already well underway in planning the current project.

"Pursuit of a new or parallel process could undermine the independence and work of the commission and significantly delay the entire project," Bryson said.

Desjardins warned public discontent isn't going to disappear anytime soon.

"Many members of the public are trying to provide alternatives and questions that would provide better options and they're being shut down, and that is not acceptable," she said.



If its a bad CRD sewage plan, by 3013 people will have revolted and demanded better. However, current CRD sewage plan is to send the digested sewage sludge to cement kilns in Fraser Valley - and thats not so far from Kamloops!



Mayor Barb Desjardins was on CFAX today (Aug 15) with Pamela McCall to talk about yesterday's sewage vote:



CTV covers the Derman motion that was held on August 14th:

CRD Staff insisted on a weighted vote of participants (WP) which means that only the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee members voted.

Vic Derman was asking for an independent review and the issuance of a new Request for Expressions of Interest (REI) to allow parties to show the CRD how they would build the project differently (better technology, lower cost, etc).

This would be done independently before any contracts are signed but the Directors brought out the old "it's a delay tactic" argument to shoot it down.

Directors Isitt and Browoff used these same old arguments:

1) Innovation can come later in THIS project.

Well, that was suppose to be the case in the design phase, when the commission was setup and in the RFP but it's not there and never going to be there because the bidders are trying to make money, not innovate.

2) Someone should show them how it can be done differently.

Well, that's pretty hard to do when you won't issue a REI.

Isitt even came back from vacation and bumped Shellie Gudgeon who had been in the chair sitting as his alternate for an hour to make sure his vote prevailed.


Derman will keep trying to get outside review of sewage treatment project

Frank Stanford
August 15, 2013

Saanich Councillor Vic Derman says yesterday's vote by the Regional Board, against his call for an independent assessment of the sewage treatment plan, is not the final word on the subject.
Derman was on C-FAX this morning to say the unanswered questions are too important to leave open...although he admitted he's not sure exactly how to proceed next...
“No I don’t think this should be over.  I think there should be great reason for public concern, and thus I think there should be continuing to try…not to stop this…you know, turn back the clock…but to simply make sure that this is made better”
Derman says there has never been a truly independent assessment, to determine whether the current plan is actually the CRD's best option. 



Frank Stanford's commentary on CFAX rocked the radio 15 August:



Alan Perry was filling in for Terry Moore on CFAX (Aug 14) and interviewed Frank Stanford about the CRD meeting where Vic's motion was defeated:






Allan Crow's short video presentation with inserted message. Original video:

Advocates of bad sewage plan video misleading because CRD sewage monitors chosen that area as a reference site precisely because is similar to seafloor near Macaulay. See caption in attached image from CRD's own outfall annual report:


Comment: Sewage-treatment planning shouldn’t be rushed (MLA Weaver)

AUGUST 14, 2013
The recent comments from some members of the Capital Regional District Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee imply that there is only a single plan for sewage treatment, and the region is constricted by completion deadlines imposed by the both the provincial and federal governments.

The recent rejection of the Viewfield site for a biosolids plant by the mayor and council of the Township of Esquimalt, a decision that was overwhelmingly supported by their community, highlighted the deficiencies in the current plan. Colwood has also given notice that it plans to pull out of the overall sewage plan, and across the CRD residents are asking serious questions about the cost, potential treatment sites and outcomes of the proposed system.

While it is understandable that the Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program Commission and Management Committee felt obliged to submit requests for proposals for the McLoughlin Point waste-water treatment plant in June of this year, based on existing completion deadlines, new information suggests those dates are flexible.

In answers to questions during the provincial budget estimates, Minister of the Environment Mary Polak opened the door to extending the current 2016 completion date with a formal request from the CRD. This would allow for plans and construction to formally be pushed to the federal deadline of 2020, or potentially even longer if both levels of government were convinced a new proposal offered greater benefits.

In addition, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes noted that the government is also open to a request from the CRD for extending funding. At present, $248 million is not going to be realized until the 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years.

At the very least, a provincial extension of the 2016 deadline would provide an immediate window to address the concerns of residents, business and municipalities, in particular, but not limited to:

1. Conducting an independent review of the current sewage-treatment project, looking specifically at the environmental and financial outcomes.

2. Reinstating the Technical and Community Advisory Committee to review proposals and proactively to inform and engage the community.

3. Allowing time for a comprehensive search and review of potential treatment-plant sites.

4. Providing an opportunity for municipalities, companies and stakeholders to submit alternative proposals.

The door is open to move the formal 2016 completion date. Should the CRD ask the minister for an extension, it would go a long way to restoring community confidence in the project.

Andrew Weaver is Green party MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.


All 24 members of CRD board should vote on sewage motion, councillor says

AUGUST 13, 2013

Politicians from across the capital region should get to vote on whether to pause the region’s sewage treatment megaproject, says the Saanich councillor behind a key vote set for today.

Vic Derman said he’s not pleased that only representatives from the seven municipalities paying into the $783-million sewage project will be allowed to vote on his Capital Regional District board motion to launch an independent review of the plan.

“I’m going to try and challenge that at the start,” Derman said. The vote is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today.

The sewage project affects the entire region’s financial ability to pursue other projects, as well as its overall sustainability and environmental condition, Derman said.

The full 24-member CRD board should be able to vote on such an issue, he said.

CRD rules state that a vote on a service should only be made by board directors from municipalities participating in that service. The CRD sewage project includes Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Esquimalt, Victoria, Oak Bay and Saanich.

Derman’s motion calls on the CRD to launch an independent review to gauge the treatment project’s environmental benefits, as well as issue a request for expressions of interest to allow for innovative new ideas.

The current plan calls for construction of a treatment facility at McLoughlin Point and a biosolid sludge centre at Hartland Landfill by 2018.

But the project has been marred by criticism and disagreement over the locations, size and technologies being considered.

Those both for and against Derman’s motion are already set to speak to CRD directors before the vote.

Treatment advocates have released a video showing underwater conditions five kilometres from the Macaulay Point outfall, where screened sewage is discharged into the sea.

The video shows accumulated sediment on the ocean seabed, which James Skwarok said is evidence that the marine environment does not simply disperse the waste but is instead being degraded due to the pollution.

“It’s another reason for us to get on with it and not delay again,” said Skwarok, who represents the Victoria Sewage Treatment Alliance but is best known for dressing up as Mr. Floatie, the pro-treatment mascot.

“We don’t support Vic’s motion. It’s not appropriate to ask for a delay yet again,” he said.

“The CRD has spent seven years consulting the public and coming up with a plan, and it would be irresponsible to throw it away now.”


Politicians face another vote on whether to put sewage plan on hold

AUGUST 12, 2013

Greater Victoria’s troubled sewage treatment project will face its latest hurdle Wednesday as politicians vote, yet again, on whether to pause and review the plan.

The Capital Regional District board will consider a motion by Saanich Coun. Vic Derman to launch an independent review of the $783-million sewage project, seek innovative new ideas and pursue a delay from the federal and provincial governments.

Derman’s motion says the “conduct of the core area sewage treatment project has likely served to lessen public confidence in the capability and viability of regional government.”

The sewage plan offers only limited environmental gains, fails to address climate change and has ignored suggestions from Colwood or Esquimalt that would provide greater environmental and financial benefits, Derman’s motion says.

The motion calls for a new request for expressions of interest to allow any group to bring forward progressive ideas.

The CRD sewage project has survived several similar votes since 2006, when the provincial government ordered the region to provide treatment.

However, this vote comes at a particularly contentious time for the project.

Directors demanded last month that staff find new possible locations for plants, after opposition to a plan for a biosolids facility at Hartland Landfill in Saanich, where sludge — the end-product of sewage treatment — would be processed into fuel or fertilizer.

Some are also considering approaching the provincial and federal governments to push back the project’s 2018 completion date.

The current plan calls for a sewage-treatment facility at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt, with resulting sludge pumped 18 kilometres to Hartland.

Derman’s motion prompted a lengthy reply from CRD staff, which warned any delay could lead to up to $30 million a year in extra costs, as well as millions more in new planning and consultation.

Outgoing CRD sewage-project director Jack Hull also warned in a report that Derman’s motion could disrupt the current tendering process for the McLoughlin Point site, hurt the CRD’s credibility, open the district to legal action and threaten provincial and federal funding.

Two environmental groups, the Georgia Strait Alliance and T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation, have written to the CRD board to oppose Derman’s motion, calling it “deeply troubling” that some CRD directors “seem focused on undermining the plan rather than strengthening it.”

The two organizations re-iterated a legal position they obtained last fall that said delaying the project could put the CRD at risk of violating federal wastewater regulations, the fisheries act and protection orders for the habitat of resident killer whales.



Denise Blackwell was on CFAX 1070 again but this time with Pamela McCall who asked a lot of tough questions:

First, Blackwell talked about the Derman motion and called it unfortunate saying that treatment has been ordered by the province and feds. What a statement...

First, Directors have the right to put forward motions and it is her job as chair to accept them. Second, she is not even the chair of the CRD where the motion will be debated and three, as chair she should be doing her best to appear independent instead of acting like the project cheerleader for staff at every opportunity.

She claims any delay will lose funding and it's getting so tired to hear this over and over. Both Ministers have said the funding is not at risk.

She then goes on to say that "ideas" have delayed the plan and that's the last thing we need at this stage. FAIL.

Distributed approaches came up and she said they cost too much which is what one 2009 "discussion paper" projected. One idea was $1.85B, 10 plants treating twice as much sewage as is planned for McLoughlin.

She also thinks siting distributed plants would be too difficult. I would have to agree if it was left up to the CRD to do the siting and consultation process.Pamela asked her about gasification and she insulted Derman by claiming that he got this knowledge off the internet. He's talked with several companies and this was a real low blow but what do you expect from a councillor that gives her own residents the finger:

She keeps claiming that the commission isn't part of the CRD and saying that the commission is independent but they are handed the reports by the same CRD staff and consultants that the committee used to receive. All that's independent is a lack of representation for this taxation.

Another risk for Blackwell: timelines to meet.

Well, there is plenty of time before 2020, in fact almost a 3 year window from the estimated completion date for the bad plan.

He's a great one: she said that heat recovery is "in the plan" because you can do heat recovery without sewage treatment and we heard yet again that she doesn't want to replace her heat pump to be part of a heat recovery network.

Well, that's usually optional unless she's planning to pass a law to force people to change their heating systems. That would be a first but I wonder if she's figured out just how many poops it would take to replace a heat pump to understand what a foolish statement she's making.

16m33s - Listen to her explanation of funding and cost sharing and see if you can understand it...

Blackwell thinks Jack Hull is retiring in September. It was stated as December when Sweetnam was hired. Does she know anything that what she's given to read?

How can this person be in charge of anything. Langford voters have a lot to answer for!!!



Former MLA Ida Chong (Oak Bay - Gordon Head) was on CFAX 1070 with Frank Stanford (August 12) to talk about life after politics and weighs in on the CRD sewage plan:

"Is this the right plan?...and if this is the plan they have decided upon that they have gone to the people on and there is good support for it, then it's the plan that should go ahead but I hear otherwise."

Chong was a former cabinet minister in both Campbell and Clark administrations and served in many portfolios including Community, Sport and Cultural Development which "oversees" regional districts like the CRD.



Ecojustice was on CFAX 1070 with Frank Stanford on Monday (August 12):

EcoJustice was formerly called Sierra Legal Defence Fund and are the lawyers that the Georgia Strait Alliance and T. Buck Suzuki use to go after governments that don't meet their expectations.

2m40s - Penner ordered this sewage treatment plan.

Not quite. Penner asked the CRD to submit an amendment..."detailing a fixed schedule for the provision of sewage treatment". The CRD came up with the bad plan, it's just a pity that Penner didn't scrutinize it enough.

Penner sent a lot of letter to the CRD:

3m00 - CRD has consulted with citizens for years to develop a plan

Not really. Residents never were given genuine options as the CRD always had it sights in Macaulay and a secret site for the Biosolids which turned out to be Viewfield.

The SENOB option included two UVic properties that were never for sale but shown to residents as choices.

3m06s - CRD came up with a good plan

Not according to many CRD Directors. Many who have reluctantly have been voting this project ahead even say it's not a good plan.

3m22s - "Local politicians" are trying to defeat sewage treatment for Victoria.

I don't think she's read the motion.

3m46s - CRD needs to stay the course to implement this plan.

Have they seen the plan? It's abominable and will lock us into a discharging treated water out to sea.

4m12s - We recently wrote our letter.

I don't see Ecojustice on the letterhead or any signature other than GSA and TBS.

5m17s - Both groups were heavily involved during 2006-2011 helping CRD to develop the plan, providing useful information about what a good plan would look like.

1) Where is that document?
2) Both groups were on TCAC but it only met from 2006-2009.
3) Most of the TCAC meetings were in 2009
4) GSA missed 6 of those meetings

I'm shocked by a lot of her other comments because Vic is the greenest politician in the region.

6m30s - Admits its not the best plan but its a good plan

I think we heard that a lot during the byelection...

7m15s - Not the greenish sewage plan the world has ever seen but innovative ideas have been put forward...

7m50s - Need to protect ocean waters from pollution...

9m05s - Listen to Tessaro discount all of the priorities at the expense of doing this plan...that's single minded, don't you think?

11m00s - Sierra LDF lost private-prosecution in 1999 when Crown Council stayed charges against the CRD.

13m00s - Prosecuting Metro Vancouver over combined sewer overflows (CSO) "storm drains".

13m44s - Now relying on federal regs because criminal prosecution hasn't been effective for CSOs or otherwise.

15m00s - Larger cities with more treatment are less of a priority than smaller cities with no treatment.

UVic Oceanographers have calculated that more pollution comes out of the Annacis Island outfall which has secondary treatment than Victoria with preliminary treatment because of the sheer volume of effluent.

20m00s - Protecting the marine environment is worth "some" financial expenditure...



Let’s sell our sludge to be treated elsewhere (Broughton)

Victoria News
August 16, 2013

I’m tired of hearing and reading about our sewage treatment debacle for that’s what it surely is. I was going to say we, but it is they: our Capital Regional District leaders who have spent tens of millions of dollars on staff time, studies and land and they still don’t know what to do. Now they want to put the brakes on, but the car isn’t even out of the garage yet.

I say we should divert the present outfall to where it can be pumped into barges or ships and sold, as is, to the highest bidder and let someone else treat it. It would save the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and bring in a revenue stream.

There’s a few problems with treating our sewage locally, apart from the fact that the group we have running the show right now have come up with nothing after six or so years.

No one’s going to want it built in their backyard. It will diminish property values, smell or no smell – it’s the psychology of living near a sewage treatment plant. Why build a plant with such a large footprint when land is at such a premium here (possibly future tax-generating land)?

Piping sludge out to Hartland will involve incredible amounts of environmental damage in the construction. Routing would have to be planned so as to diminish impact and minimize the inconvenience of having construction going on for years. If there should be a spill or leak, better it be on sea than land because that’s where it’s already going.

We could use the saved money to repair broken infrastructure and start to deal with ground water run off and see if we could get some of the provincial and federal government funding diverted to that cause, or just keep the savings to keep taxes lower.

Bob Broughton


Sewage ‘quick fix’ not the answer (Brown)
Victoria News
August 16, 2013 

Sydney built an opera house on its harbour. Why do we want to put a sewage treatment plant on the entrance to ours?

In its rush to secure federal and provincial money, the Capital Regional District is planning to build the region’s sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point across from the cruise ship terminal and adjacent to the West Bay Walkway and Marina.

Although at first look it would be a fast fix for the city’s sewage problem, is it really the legacy that we want to leave the city and our provincial capital? Will cruise ship passengers be as eager to return? Will odours occasionally escape and waffle over the B.C. legislature and downtown area? Seagull droppings may be a small problem by comparison.

Why do we spend so much money and effort to beautify the Inner Harbour and reclaim the Rock Bay area but so easily give away the amazing potential of McLoughlin Point?

Sewage treatment is an important environmental issue that needs to be addressed but is McLoughlin Point the best choice? At a cost of almost $1 billion, a sewage treatment plant has the potential of being either an extreme benefit or an extreme disaster.  A flawed sewage plant would be harder to dispose of than a flawed fast ferry.

Do we want to trust the sewage committee’s fast fix? Aren’t there other possible sites? Shouldn’t the citizens who will ultimately pay for the project have a say? Can’t we save both the fish and the harbour?

Norma Brown