EVENTS AND ACTIONS:
- The RITE Plan activists' street display
CRD SEWAGE NEWS
- Frank Stanford CFAX comment
- Iain Hunter: We face a future of wallowing in waste
- Tough questions for Richard Atwell
- Big tax hikes for Langford, Esquimalt, View Royal
- Regional scrap solution sought
- Delaying project would save money (Brown)
- Sewage decision haste makes waste for project (Brown)
- Sewage project flushing money down the toilet (Gelais)
- CRD using tax dollars as toilet paper (Gelais)
- Taxes to be levied for service not used (Johnson)
- Trash should be fuel to generate power (Pomper)
- Funding not available for sewage alternatives (Stanjek)
EVENTS AND ACTIONS:
- ARESST AGM January 22. First notice of ARESST's official Annual General Meeting to be held on January 22, 2014,
at Vic West Community Centre, 7pm.
Save the Date - more information and agenda to come!
The RITE Plan activists' street display - photos
Photos of citizen volunteers out on a rainy November morning to promote the RITE plan, thanks to Soren Henrich for the photos:
Frank Stanford CFAX comment
Thursday, Nov 28th:
Frank links First Nations Treaty settlement and DND land with sewage project...but Macaulay is not the right place and is not part of the RITE plan's
consideration at all.
Iain Hunter: We face a future of wallowing in waste
Excerpt from Iain Hunter column from yesterday's TC. Letters@timescolonist.com
"Arbitrary decrees by senior governments have stampeded local politicians into a sewage morass. It’s impossible, apparently, to use treatment and energy-producing technology on the horizon that will provide better treatment than the outmoded pump-and-truck scheme proposed that has so many residents leery.
Something called the Sewage Treatment Action Group has proposed several tertiary treatment plants where there are already pump stations and a gasification plant at the Hartland dump to handle not only sewage leftovers but garbage and kitchen scraps as well.
But the powers that be have determined gasification is “an industry in its infancy.”
Small gasification projects may be OK for places in Japan and Europe, but not for Greater Victoria where tried and true is preferable.":
Tough questions for Richard Atwell
by STEPHEN ANDREW
The leading activist opposed to the CRD’s sewage treatment plan explains why he thinks there’s still hope for a better plan
Big tax hikes for Langford, Esquimalt, View Royal
NOVEMBER 27, 2013
Langford, Esquimalt and View Royal taxpayers will see whopping increases in the Capital Regional District portion of their property taxes next year as the cost of building sewage treatment starts hitting home.
All three municipalities face increases in the range of 19 per cent for CRD costs, largely to pay for their portion of the $5 million a year the CRD is setting aside for sewage treatment. The three collect the cost of sewage treatment through property taxes, unlike municipalities such as Saanich and Victoria, which collect through the water bill.
Because CRD services are funded through many means, including grants, user fees and taxes, and different municipalities pay for different bundles of services, the CRD portion of the property tax bill varies depending on where you live. In some municipalities, such as Sidney and Central Saanich, the CRD tax bill has actually dropped.
In Esquimalt, the 19.33 per cent increase will mean another $60.29 for the average home (assessed at $467,412) for an estimated bill of $372.21. Add in Capital Region Hospital District and Municipal Finance Authority debt costs and the total jumps to $671.60.
“I was stunned to see 19.33 per cent in Esquimalt,” said acting CRD director Lynda Hundleby, an Esquimalt councillor.
In Langford, the 19.65 per cent increase is about $37.68 on the average home (assessed at $413,575) for an estimated CRD tax bill of $229.49. Once the finance authority debt and hospital district portions are added in, the total is estimated at $379.14.
Langford director Coun. Denise Blackwell called the increase “a big hit.” She said her municipality will consider shifting the sewage treatment costs onto water bills.
In View Royal, the 18.02 per cent increase will add about $43.21 on the average home (assessed at $502,688) for a total CRD tax bill of about $282.97. Add in hospital district and finance authority costs and the total increases to $484.66.
CRD chairman Alastair Bryson noted that some municipalities, such as Sidney, will see decreases in the CRD tax requisition largely because they are retiring debt.
“I realize with some of the special projects, like the core area liquid waste management plan, that has a huge leverage effect on certain municipalities, there’s no doubt about it,” Bryson said.
“But I will say that the Saanich Peninsula went through this challenging decision in the 1990s to build a sewage treatment plant. We saw our requisition go up to cover that debt and, actually, what we’re seeing today is that our requisition is substantially lower and we have a very modern, fully functional sewage treatment plant. So you do get beyond it,” Bryson said.
The total CRD budget is expected to increase 4.9 per cent in 2014. Key drivers are an increase in the regional parks acquisition levy (0.7 per cent); introduction of sewage treatment costs (2.2 per cent); and basic operating cost hikes of about 1.6 per cent.
A staff report notes that not only are labour agreements up for negotiation in the coming year, the region is facing a number of payroll and benefit cost increases.
Regional scrap solution sought
29 Nov 2013 page A6
The Capital Regional District has to start planning to deal locally with tonnes of food scraps that are being collected in Greater Victoria, says chairman Alastair Bryson.
“I want to see us coming up with a vision of how we’re going to have the capacity within the Capital Regional District for the longterm processing of source-separated organics,” Bryson said.
Bryson made the comments after the CRD’s environmental services committee reviewed a staff report on possible synergies in processing both food scraps and treating sewage sludge at the Hartland Landfill site.
The report suggests there could be shared infrastructure and service opportunities in areas such as environmental monitoring, administration, security and use of equipment such as weigh scales. There would also be potential to share use of landfill gas. Commingling food scraps and sludge for processing is not an option at this time.
CRD politicians had suggested exploring ways to combine garbage and kitchen scraps with sewage sludge as part of an incinerator project that the civilian sewage commission says will have to be built to burn sewage sludge.
But the province has said it will not allow the CRD to consider a waste-to-energy plant for solid waste unless its diversion rate at Hartland exceeds 70 per cent. It’s currently 50 per cent.
Further, the CRD board has reaffirmed that it will not apply treated biosolids on land.
The committee recommended staff continue to look at opportunities for integrated resource recovery.
CRD staff anticipate that by 2015, when the region’s ban on food scraps at the landfill kicks in, 30,000 tonnes of scraps a year will be collected. But there are few local processing options.
Foundation Organics, the only licensed facility in the capital region, was handling scraps from Oak Bay, Victoria and View Royal until the CRD suspended its interim contract and recycler licence after hundreds of complaints about odour and litter. The CRD is shipping organics to Fisher Road Recycling in Cobble Hill.
Saanich just signed a $4.85-million, five-year contract with D.L. Bins (Fisher Road Recycling) to process the food scraps it will start collecting next year.
Delaying project would save money (Brown)
Re: “Sewage project delay could be costly,” Nov. 23.
The article quoting Capital Regional District representatives tells only half of the story about sewage project delays.
In 2011, the CRD estimated the operating costs of the sewage plant at more than $1 million per month ($14.57 million per year). If you have a year delay and the perceived construction inflationary costs add $12 million to the cost, you actually save more money by not operating the sewage facility for a year.
Sewage decision haste makes waste for project (Brown)
November 26, 2013
The Capital Regional District’s announcement of rising costs for its sewage treatment project only tells half of the story.
According to the CRD’s own estimates, savings gained by delaying operating costs are greater than CRD-predicted inflationary costs for the plant. Delaying the project’s completion until 2020 actually saves taxpayer money.
It has been the CRD’s haste that truly threatens the project’s success.
Haste in releasing the project’s requests for proposals before zoning has been approved now threatens unnecessary penalties. Haste in committing to a plan before resolving sludge transport and disposal issues creates environmental and property owners’ concerns.
Haste denies community input and adequate research into alternate, modern technologies such as gasification, which Vancouver is short-listing for its new plant. Haste and secrecy in the unnecessary purchase of the Viewfield Road property has wasted money and undermined public trust.
Isn’t it time to stop the haste, allow community input and accept Minister Polak’s offer of a flexible 2020 deadline? This is Greater Victoria’s most expensive megaproject ever.
Affected residents of the region should be allowed to contribute further input. Do so through the 2014 municipal elections.
Sewage project flushing money down the toilet (Gelais)
NOVEMBER 26, 2013
Re: “Sewage project delay could be costly,” Nov. 23.
Be prepared for a massive property tax hike. As the Capital Regional District sewage treatment plan is just getting started, local politicians are expressing concerns that extra costs for incinerators, barging and other unforeseen expenses may lead to cost overruns borne entirely by local taxpayers.
CRD sewage committee chairwoman Denise Blackwell said: “I used to be quite convinced it would come in on budget, and I don’t know if I am anymore.” Provincial and federal fixed contributions total two-thirds of the project’s $783-million budget. Victoria taxpayers will fund the rest.
This will amount to several hundred dollars per year on a typical home. If the project goes over budget by one third, your tax portion doubles. If it goes over by two-thirds, it triples. If you look at the track record of large infrastructure projects taken on by governments, this is quite possible.
The irony is that I haven’t seen any evidence that the CRD treatment plan will be a net benefit to the environment. This project is a major drain on resources that could have gone into necessary projects such as increased seniors’ housing, improving the Colwood Crawl or storm-sewer upgrades (surface runoff contains more contaminants than sewage). Instead, we are flushing massive amounts of money down the toilet.
Jeff St. Gelais
CRD using tax dollars as toilet paper (Gelais)
November 26, 2013
Be prepared for a massive property tax hike. As the Capital Regional District’s sewage treatment plan is just getting started, local politicians are expressing concerns that extra costs for incinerators, barging and other unforeseen expenses may lead to cost overruns borne entirely by local taxpayers.
CRD sewage committee chair Denise Blackwell said she was once convinced the project would come in on budget, but now she’s not sure. Provincial and federal “fixed” contributions total two-thirds of the project’s $783-million budget. Victoria-area taxpayers will fund the rest. This amounts to several hundred dollars per year on a typical home.
Given the fixed portion of funding, if the project goes over budget by one third, your tax portion doubles. If it goes over by two-thirds, it triples. If you look at the track record of large infrastructure projects taken on by governments, this is quite possible.
The irony is that I haven’t seen any evidence that the CRD treatment plan will be a net benefit to the environment. This project is a major drain on resources that could have gone into necessary projects such as increased seniors housing, improving the Colwood crawl, or storm sewer upgrades (surface runoff contains more contaminants than sewage). Instead, we are flushing massive amounts of money down the toilet.
Jeff St. Gelais
Taxes to be levied for service not used (Johnson)
DECEMBER 1, 2013
Re: “Big tax hikes for Langford, Esquimalt, View Royal,” Nov. 28.
Something stinks here. In Langford our property tax is going up 19.65 per cent. We are on a septic field and as I understand, our neighbourhood will never be using the new sewage treatment.
We are charged taxes for buses and that’s understandable — that service is available to us all and used occasionally. When B.C. Ferries got too expensive, we made the choice to stop taking ferries. B.C. Hydro increases have forced us to heat our home solely with wood. Still, we were able to make that choice. Water rates went up dramatically so we quit watering the lawn and started taking shorter showers.
We are being charged for a service that the Capital Regional District will never provide for us. Is that even legal? I smell a class-action lawsuit coming on.
Trash should be fuel to generate power (Pomper)
November 26, 2013
Re: Saanich to send organic waste to Cobble Hill (News, Nov. 22)
Saanich has awarded a five-year contract to a Cobble Hill company to process organic waste. Coun. Paul Gerrard is quoted stating, “We’ve got to do something and nobody wants this buried in landfill.”
I don’t recall being asked whether residents supported this venture. I, for one, don’t understand the need to process organic material into compost.
We have a perfectly acceptable means of collecting segregated yard waste at the bin facility near Quadra Street and McKenzie Avenue.
This can be processed locally into mulch and used locally. The addition of food scraps appears to be the problem that council is trying to solve. In my view they are being myopic and fail to address the real issue – landfill space.
It is time for council to come into the 21st century. We bury vast volumes of combustible materials that could be safely and environmentally incinerated.
We spend millions to segregate table scraps that could easily be incinerated along with all other non-recyclable materials and produce a value-added product, namely electricity.
The sale of this energy could dramatically offset collection and processing costs. This would be a far better solution to deal with our dwindling landfill space.
I would venture to say that there would be significant private capital ready to proceed with such a venture.
It is time for council to admit they have made an error – creating value-added garbage
Funding not available for sewage alternatives (Stanjek)
NOVEMBER 30, 2013
Re: “Sewage project flushing money down the toilet,” letter, Nov. 26.
Many opposed to sewage treatment argue that millions of dollars could be better spent on other environmental initiatives, but no level of government is offering equivalent amounts of money to pursue any such thing.