February 9, 2014

Sign: petition to demand review of CRD sewage plan
- Prepare: McLoughlin Rezoning Public Hearing 18 Feb
- Go: boat tour of McLoughlin Point 16 Feb, 2pm
Go: to SeaTerra's 2  Open Houses (to get CRD point of view)
Go: "Ocean Pollution in Canada's Oceans - a Whale of a Tale", 11 Feb
- Send: in your letters!
- How it went: Prospect Lake presentation 3 Feb

CTV coverage of the CTF Sewage Report
CTF Sewage report on CFAX
CRD Sewage Chair Young on CFAX
News stories:
Taxpayers group worries about ballooning sewage costs
CTF Releases independent sewage tax report
Taxpayer group predicts sewage bill inflation
Sewage chair says CTF report sends mixed signals
Colwood seeks standalone sewage treatment plant
Frank Stanford criticism of CTF report
Greater Victoria sewage price tag swells with delays: taxpayers federation

Sewage-plant impact will be far-reaching (Newcomb)
- Many problems, questions remain with sewage plan (Skinner)



Sign petition to demand review of CRD sewage plan

The communities have created a petition that we are sponsoring:


Every signature will be presented in the Legislature by local MLAs.

Please sign!


Prepare for McLoughlin Rezoning Public Hearing Feb 18

Have you started thinking about your speech or presentations yet?

Upcoming Esquimalt 18 Feb hearing is a vitally-important, key opportunity to speak out against this bad CRD sewage plan: its environmental impacts, its incredible cost and its lack of advanced-stage treatment.

Get more information from Esquimalt's website, put together a few sentences of your concerns, and arrive early. Its first come, first presenting, so if you sign-in early, you speak early and can then fully appreciate the contributions of later presenters.

More info: http://www.esquimalt.ca/news/news01241401.aspx


Take boat tour of McLoughlin Point 16 Feb, 2pm

The CRD has come through with their promise to offer boat tours of McLoughlin Point.

 (map:  http://goo.gl/maps/XeMRV)

Date: Sunday, February 16, 2014
Time: 2:00 p.m. Gather at dock
2:30 p.m. Departure
5:30 p.m. Return
Location: Orca Spirit Adventures
Marina side of the Coast Harbourside Hotel
146 Kingston Street, James Bay

Email seaterra@crd.bc.ca with
your name and phone number by Friday, February 14
to register. Participation will be limited to 150 persons
on a first come, first serve basis.

Limited to first 150 people - so bring your camera, arrive early and dress warm!


Go: to SeaTerra's 2  Open Houses (to get CRD point of view)

Date: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Time: 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Location: Esquimalt Legion
622 Admirals Road

Date: Saturday, February 15, 2014
Time: 1:00 pm to 4:00 p.m.
Location: Archie Browning Sports Centre – Crow’s Nest
1151 Esquimalt Road

Be sure to leave your comments both verbally and in writing!


Go: "Ocean Pollution in Canada's Oceans - a Whale of a Tale", 11 Feb, 6:30pm

Dr. Peter Ross - Marine Scientist - (U Vic & formerly DFO) will speak at Herman's Jazz Club Cafe Scientifique

"Ocean Pollution in Canada's Oceans - a Whale of a Tale"

Tuesday, February 11 at 6:30 PM. 753 View Street.



How it went - Prospect Lake presentation 3 February

Great presentations by Brian Burchill, Chris Corps and Richard Atwell. They set the tone for engaging with about 40 residents near Prospect Lake area - so close to the CRD's twin sewage pipes on their way to Hartland. 

Chris actually lives in the Prospect Lake district. 

Richard's presentation clearly and colourfully laid-out the fundamentals of The RITE Plan's project. 

Brian's presentation outlined the foundations for why ARESST opposes the CRD sewage plan.

All three looked for common ground with Prospect Lake residents.

Big thanks to PLDCA for setting it up!



Audio-visual news:

CTV coverage of the CTF Sewage Report




CTF's Jordan Bateman was on CFAX with Terry Moore at 3pm. Callers were Victoria Chamber of Commerce's Bruce Carter and Andrew Weaver. Definitely worth listening to!



CRD Sewage Chair Young on CFAX

Geoff Young was on CFAX with Al Ferraby criticizing the CTF Report and saying all the usual stuff he's well known for:



News stories:

Taxpayers group worries about ballooning sewage costs

Frank Stanford
February 03, 2014

A report commissioned by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation warns the sewage treatment project being planned in the Capital Region will likely run 50 million dollars over budget due to inflation alone.

Certified Management Consultant Sacha Peter has estimated inflation has driven the project capital cost to 830 million dollars, and operating costs to 15 1/2 million per year.  He says that equates to an average hit of 410 dollars per year for residential taxpayers; and more than 2300 dollars for business property taxpayers.

 In fact the costs will not be consistent among the seven municipalities participating in the project, and Peter suggests that the figures previously estimated for Victoria; Esquimalt; and View Royal in particular are understated.

The Taxpayer Federation's B-C Director, Jordan Bateman, says the project "has boondoggle written all over it".



CTF Releases independent sewage tax report

Jordan Bateman
Canadian Taxpayers Federation
February 03, 2014

Independent accountant report finds CRD has understated Victoria, Esquimalt and View Royal’s burden by hundreds of dollars
CRD businesses could pay $2,306 per year for Seaterra plant

VICTORIA, B.C.: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) today released new numbers on the cost of the Seaterra sewage project, showing that the Capital Regional District’s (CRD) tax models are overly simplistic, and suggesting that businesses should brace for an average $2,306 annual property tax hike.

“The Victoria sewage plant project is massively expensive, hugely unpopular, and based on flawed math,” said Jordan Bateman, the CTF’s B.C. Director. “This has boondoggle written all over it, and it’s time the taxpayers of the CRD had accurate numbers on what it’s going to cost them.”

The 48-page CTF report, prepared by independent, off-Island Certified Management Accountant Sacha Peter, found:

Inflation from 2010 has conservatively increased the capital cost of building the project to $830.6 million, and the annual operating cost to $15.46 million.
The average CRD homeowner will pay about $410 per year for the project
The CRD’s plan understates the average Victoria homeowner’s tax bill by $579 over six years, Esquimalt by $555, View Royal by $195, and Saanich by $69.
Should cities apportion sewage taxes to businesses at the same ratio it uses for property taxes, the average CRD business would pay $2,306 per year for the project’s capital and operating expenses.

"If this project goes forward, taxpayers – both residential and business – are going to suffer greatly. There just isn’t enough growth or a broad enough tax base to pay for this project,” said Bateman. “With the Esquimalt public hearing later this month, Esquimalt councillors should be demanding accurate tax models from the CRD – the ones they are basing their decisions on now are too simplistic and understate the tax burden by $555 over the first six years.”

To see the full CTF report on the sewage project, click here: https://www.taxpayer.com/media/CTF-Seaterra-Report-edit%20PDF%20(sh%20edits).pdf



Taxpayer group predicts sewage bill inflation

Jeff Bell 
Times Colonist
February 3, 2014

The price tag is rising on the capital region’s sewage-treatment project, and the $783-million initiative “has boondoggle written all over it,” says the B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Jordan Bateman said a 48-page report prepared by an independent accountant puts the actual cost of the project, after factoring in inflation, at $830 million. That’s because the current price tag is based on 2010 dollars, he said.

“All told, it looks like the average CRD homeowner will pay about $410 per year for the project,” Bateman said.

He said the report takes issue with the way the CRD has calculated the tax burden for homeowners.

“In Victoria, we calculate that, over six years, the average Victoria homeowner’s tax bill will be $579 more than what the CRD has projected. Likewise for Esquimalt, $555 more than what has been calculated by the CRD.”

Bateman said the report found little information on how businesses would be affected.

“We couldn’t find an estimate for businesses, for example, what a business ratepayer would pay.”

The report calculates business landowners would pay about $2,300 per year in taxes for the project’s capital and operating expenses, or about $200 a month.

Capital Regional District sewage committee chairman Geoff Young said the contents of the report and the tough words in the press release that accompanied it do not match up.

“The press release talked about how [the project] was a boondoggle and it was horrendously expensive.

“It is expensive. It’s not a boondoggle and it doesn’t say in the report that it is a boondoggle,” Young said.

And while it is a costly project, “every other municipality in the civilized world has sewage treatment,” Young said.

He said it is legitimate for the report to bring up the issue of inflation.

“There’s no question that delays cost money and we’ve been hearing that. At the moment, Seaterra [the name for the treatment project established in October] seems confident that, aside from the biosolids issue, they could still live within the budget that they were given.”

A biosolids or sludge facility will be built along with the main treatment plant.

One thing the report doesn’t do in much detail is look at the process of charging for the sewage system based on the amount of flow generated, which will likely be a something that is looked at in most of the seven municipalities involved, Young said.

“That’s one of the reasons why Victoria seems to be paying a lot. Unfortunately we have an old, leaky pipe system and a lot of water gets into it.”

Bateman said the release of the report is well-timed, since Esquimalt will be holding a Feb. 18 public hearing on the rezoning needed for the treatment plant. The chosen site for the plant is Esquimalt’s McLoughlin Point.

“For a lot of people, this is the watershed moment for the sewage-treatment plant,” Bateman said.

Bateman said every mayor and councillor in the affected municipalities will be sent a copy of the report, adding that he expects sewage treatment to be a significant issue in this fall’s municipal election.




Sewage chair says CTF report sends mixed signals

Ryan Price
February 04, 2014 08:15

The Chair of the CRD's Liquid Waste Management Plan Committee thinks the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is sending mixed messages.

A study commission by the CTF suggests Greater Victoria’s sewage treatment project is running $50-million dollars over budget because of inflation.

Sewage committee chair Geoff Young says it’s true that delays have cost money, which is why it doesn't make sense to delay any further. Young says he was surprised the CTF suggests the project be paused for a couple of years.

Even though Young agrees with the CTF that inflation is driving up costs, he says Seaterra has said they can make the project work within their current budget.


Colwood seeks standalone sewage treatment plant

Kyle Wells 
Victoria News
Feb 4, 2014

Colwood city council has voted to ask the Capital Regional District for permission to change the regional sewage treatment plan in order to build its own facility.

Being asked for is an amendment to the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Plan allowing Colwood to operate its own wastewater treatment plant, and with no involvement in the regional facility based in Esquimalt.

“We want to do it in such a way that’s it’s no risk, no cost to CRD or its current plans,” said Coun. Judith Cullington, chair of the transportation and public infrastructure committee. “We want to stay within the plan and do our own little piece differently.”

The idea is to save Colwood taxpayers money. Colwood is in a unique position where it has a low percentage of its homes currently on sewers, about 25 per cent, but is having to buy into the regional plan and pay for capacity now which will not be used for years.

As it stands, Colwood’s current sewer users pay for their capacity, while all residents pay for future capacity. Many properties will never have the opportunity to join the sewer system and owners have voiced opposition to paying for a service they will never use.

On the other hand, Colwood councillors say sewer users are concerned about escalating costs, having to pay for their own use plus future community capacity.

“We’re an oddball in the system,” Cullington said. “It leaves the community with this quite big bill for all that future capacity.”

The proposed Colwood treatment plant would be built to handle current needs and short-term capacity increases. The plant would be added to, or other small plants would be constructed, in the future as needed. The city is also looking into tertiary treatment, which creates non-potable water which can be used for irrigation and other community needs.

“There’s great value in it,” said Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton. “At the end of the day we’re in control of those costs and I think ultimately it’s going to be a better treatment process.”

Tentatively approved by council, Colwood plans are to locate its plant underneath the park-and-ride at West Shore Parks and Recreation, off Ocean Boulevard.

City engineer Michael Baxter said the location would be ideal as it is city land, is above the CRD sewer trunk line, has no residential neighbours and is near b
usinesses and facilities which could benefit from the energy and water it creates. While no plans are set in stone, the current concept sees all park-and-ride remaining.

“It seems hard to come up with a better site, it’s such a perfect site,” Baxter said.

The city has set aside $200,000 to go towards preparing the application and beginning initial planning of a local sewage treatment facility. If the CRD allows the amendment, the city will begin regional public consultation before going to the Ministry of Environment for approval.

Cullington said the Colwood plan will have advantages for the larger region, as it will free up capacity for other municipalities, extending the timeline before the regional treatment plant maxes out. Colwood’s move will also mean when the planned West Shore treatment plant is built in 2020, regional taxpayers won’t have to foot the bill for Colwood’s sewage treatment.

“It’s certainly something I’ve heard consistently people saying they’re supportive of this approach,” Cullington said.



Frank Stanford criticism of CTF report

Frank Stanford
February 5, 2014

Unfortunately the Canadian Taxpayers Federation attempt this week to clarify certain issues around the Victoria sewage treatment project has just served to muddy the waters, unnecessarily.

It's too bad...the Taxpayers' Federation is a voice that often has something useful to say; something that governments should hear.   Taxpayers should not be taken for granted.

But on the sewage project the CTF has come up short.  To point out that inflation tends to add to the cost of mega projects is frankly a no brainer.  Victorians already know that.  So do the people planning the project.  In fact they've warned, repeatedly, that it is one of the risks associated with delays and reconsiderations.  This is not news.  And we didn't need the Taxpayers' Federation to explain it to us.

It might have been useful for the CTF to engage the issue, by lobbying or offering to lobby senior governments on behalf of the taxpayers of Victoria, to share proportionately any cost overruns, rather than capping their funding and leaving the local ratepayer to the wolves.  It might have been useful for the CTF to find out and tell us whether that's the way things are usually done when governments split big ticket price tags.  Or is Victoria being singled out for special "treatment"?



Victoria News headline below is incorrect because Canadian Taxpayers Federation well-researched report did not say that sewage project costs would swell with delays - only CRD sewage committee chairman Geoff Young said that. 

In fact, the CTF said that this CRD sewage project will incur higher costs then the CRD is leading the public to believe, and if some scenarios emerge, could even be worse. 

CRD sewage chair Young's statement is really misleading because in fact, delaying this bad CRD sewage project would create significant net savings to residential and business taxpayers. 

Victoria's hospitality businesses would likely be targeted for unaffordably-higher sewage tax bill increases under the current CRD sewage plan.

While every year's delay may incur relatively low carrying charges, a multi-year pause in the project will avoid the high operational charges and allow proper environmental impact assessment, health impact assessment, technology improvements and planning for a better system.

Greater Victoria sewage price tag swells with delays: taxpayers federation

Daniel Palmer
Victoria News
Feb 5, 2014

An independent analysis of the Capital Regional District’s sewage treatment project proves that delays will only cost taxpayers more money, says the CRD’s sewage committee chair.

The CRD’s Seaterra project is already $50 million over budget – at $830 million – due to inflation and set to rise further, according to a report released this week by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

But stakeholders say the analysis only makes a stronger case to move forward with construction as quickly as possible.

“Seaterra has stressed very strongly that delay means greater costs,” said Geoff Young, chair of the CRD’s core area liquid waste management committee. “Postponing the project and having construction costs increase means the (one-third) fixed contribution of the provincial government will be worth less and less the longer we wait.”

Last year, an arms-length commission was established to oversee Seaterra and ensure the project stays within its $783-million budget. Cost overruns will likely be the sole responsibility of CRD taxpayers.

The Taxpayers Federation funded an independent analysis of Seaterra after Greater Victoria businesses expressed concern about the “nebulous” estimated costs of the project, said Jordan Bateman, the advocacy group’s B.C. director.

The CRD’s estimated costs to homeowners are likely underestimated by hundreds of dollars during the project’s initial five-year building phase, he said.

In the City of Victoria, the CRD estimates the average household will pay $353 annually towards the project by 2018. Bateman pegs that number closer to $530, but said many cost allocation questions remain unanswered, especially for businesses.

“You can’t make good decisions with a vacuum of good information,” he said.

Young, a City of Victoria councillor, said the federation is jumping to conclusions, as municipalities have autonomy in how they allocate costs to taxpayers. Victoria is stressing a pay model based on flow, he added.

“We have businesses in the city that do a fair amount of pre-treatment, and some people on wells in the city. Should they get credit for that? There are a whole lot of practical issues with allocating costs,” he said.

Further complicating the financial outlook is a recent decision by Colwood to study opting out of Seaterra and build its own sewage treatment facility. The municipality plans to float the idea at a CRD committee meeting Feb. 12.

“If Colwood pulls out, that will further increase the cost by 4.5 per cent to other municipalities. That’s $40 million,” Bateman said.

The current sewage treatment project includes a wastewater treatment plant planned for McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt and a biosolids and incineration facility at Hartland landfill in Saanich. Esquimalt is holding a public hearing on the McLoughlin plant Feb. 18.

Both projects are in the early stages with an estimated project completion date of 2018.





Sewage-plant impact will be far-reaching (Newcomb)

FEBRUARY 7, 2014

Re: “Sewage bill inflation predicted,” Feb. 4.

Capital Regional District sewage committee chairman Geoff Young is wrong to say that we need sewage treatment, because Victoria already has a well-managed marine-based sewage treatment system that scientists agree works adequately and that won’t cost a billion dollars.

However, even the Canadian Taxpayers Federation report omits massive sewage plan mistakes, such as the CRD secretly spending $17 million in a failed attempt to plunk a sewage-sludge processing plant in an Esquimalt neighbourhood. Then the CRD omitted environmental safety and hazard criteria in its decision, making for two new sewage pipelines through a rural area near to many drinking-water wells.

The CTF report didn’t address the economic impacts of this bad sewage-plant project on Victoria’s tourism industry, because so many hotels, restaurants and pubs are going to be faced with especially high sewage charges based on their water consumption.

Indeed, this CRD sewage plant is a looming boondoggle that must be stopped now to prevent its burdensome legacy impairing the future of our community, environment and economy.

John Newcomb



Many problems, questions remain with sewage plan (Skinner)

Goldstream News
Feb 4, 2014

A column in the daily paper written by Dr. Shaun Peck is a good explanation on the contaminants distributed to our water ways through our storm drains.

He stated that a lot of the contaminants that are presently being distributed into storm drains will continue to be distributed into our waterways after the new regional sewage treatment system is completed.

Dr. Peck explains that the contaminants in the storm drains could lead to more serious problems in the future.

If he is correct, maybe Capital Regional District directors, marine scientists, and public health officials should be asking the federal and provincial governments to take the lead and make sure the CRD is given the time needed to make sure that we will be left with a quality system that will address all of the government’s regulations.

We should not be left with a third-rate system with costs that will continue to escalate.

The way the CRD is proceeding with this project at this time, leaves me wondering if we will already be on the hook for a lot more than the estimated $783 million. The federal, provincial and municipal governments are only going to split the costs of this project up to a maximum of $783 million and then municipalities are left to pay the rest.

At this point in time there are so many items that have not been addressed. There isn’t any solution on what the CRD is going to do with the sludge. If the population continues to grow on the West Shore and another treatment plant is required, we will have to pay the total bill.

How many other situations will have to be addressed in the future and how much are we going to be expected to dip into our wallets? Now is the time we need to ask all of the politicians involved in this project – when will sanity prevail?

The time to make sure that all of the requirements by the federal government as well as the estimated costs, should be available now.

The politicians should be honest with us and we should not have to wait until our taxes are so high that no one will be able to afford to live in one of the most gorgeous areas of the world.

John Skinner