May 18, 2014

Audio-Visual News:
- CTV: Seaterra wants more!
Young on CFAX
Sweetnam on CTV
Desjardins on CFAX
Dumping Raw Sewage is Not Okay
Atwell on CFUV
May 14, 2014 CHEK Sewage Recap
Dumping Raw Sewage is Not Okay (CRD propaganda)
- The RITE Plan's Youtube Channel
News stories:
Region looks to add $13.7 million to sewage bill
- A sullied sea to Seaterra: a history of the CRD’s sewage treatment efforts
Sewage treatment upgrade adds $5.2 million to budget
Editorial: Province has role in sewage debate


Audio-Visual News:

CTV: Seaterra wants more!
Young on CFAX

Geoff Young, Chair of the CRD's Liquid Waste Management Committee came on CFAX with Terry Moore at 5:30pm.

Listen to his "throw good money after bad" philosophy that puts the welfare of contractors ahead of the taxpayer:

Young says, "$8.6m for barging is a grotesque amount of money" and suggests building a new gym at Macaulay Elementary to compensate for all the trucking impacts to Lyall St. that he favours. Incredible.

This interview is chock full of Young's FUD so I called in (thanks Terry) to correct one of his more repeated and erroneous statements: Esquimalt never offered up McLoughlin for a single large treatment plant. EVER.

My question:

"Why did you Geoff Young rezone the property at the end of the process and are now trying to ram it down our throats".

The reply from Geoff "no accountability" Young:

"Frankly, that's pretty irrelevant to this issue".

What really happened is that Young and his cozy staff bet the farm on McLoughlin and they always planned to rezone the property at the very tail end of the process to avoid any scrutiny of the limitations and inadequacies of the site so many of which were highlighted over 6 days of public hearings in Esquimalt.

CRD has asked twice for a Section 37(6) from the Minister and I'll bet they'll be turned down twice.

Too bad Young has tied his reputation to the project when it's the quality of the project and the cost for the taxpayer that's important but hey, that's politics, so we have to endure it until November elections.

Young's argument that CRD probably couldn't find a site elsewhere the public could accept speaks to the main problem that has plagued this problem from the start: they picked the wrong layout (centralized) and the wrong technology (secondary treatment) and CRD staff and consultants blew the cost estimate, by a mile:

Sweetnam on CTVWed May 14th CTV news: More pressure tactics from SeaRD.

This time from Sweetnam directed to the Minister claiming that she has to "approve" the McLoughlin site by July 26th before all the bids expire.

If and it's a BIG if, the Minister uses Section 37(6) or another piece of legislation, Esquimalt can use the force of law to refuse the zoning, put an injunction in place and I expect that they probably will.

The motion at todays meeting to furlough Seaterra was headed off by Geoff Young who forced it to come to the June meeting so we'll have to wait another month.
In the meantime, expect a media blitz from CRD...

Desjardins on CFAXMayor Barb Desjardins was on CFAX in the afternoon with Terry Moore to correct the misinformation from yesterday's show when Geoff Young came on as well as to ask on behalf of the people of Esquimalt for an apology for Young's statement that residents could be bought off with kayaks for the cost of barging materials to McLoughlin:

Listen to Terry's reaction when he discovers that this whole mess is the result of CRD putting out an RFP before they even have rezoning for the site.
Caller Deborah addresses Young's fear mongering straight up.

Atwell on CFUV

I was on CFUV with Mehdi Najari to talk about decentralized sewage plants and to talk about the SeaRD Commission.

The commission is basically an expensive rubber stamping machine that costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands in salaries and millions for a plan that has no site.

This is a project without a plan and they don't care. Rescind Bylaw 3851 that established the commission and shut it down before it can do any more harm.

May 14, 2014 CHEK Sewage Recap
Dumping Raw Sewage is Not Okay (CRD propaganda)

Just one big problem with CRD's just-released propaganda video is that "dumping raw sewage" is incorrect when even Seaterra website confirms that "Preliminary treatment is currently in effect at the CRD's Clover Point and Macaulay Point Facilities". 

CRD doesn't let accuracy impede good media manipulation of public opinion. 

"Dave" gives testimonial but note that Jacob Bros Construction got $11.5 million Seaterra contract because two lower bidders were apparently "incomplete and likely non-compliant".

Submit complaints online to:

RITE Plan's Youtube Channel

Frequently updated with the most vital and interesting snippets that show the best and the worst of the CRD's sewage planning process

News stories:

Region looks to add $13.7 million to sewage bill

MAY 12, 2014 

The cost of Greater Victoria’s sewage treatment project could increase by $13.7 million to cover the costs of barging construction materials to Esquimalt and adding advanced oxidation to the treatment process.

The current budget estimate is $783 million.

Seaterra, the commission overseeing the project, and Capital Regional District staff are recommending CRD directors approve the additional spending.

Barging, estimated to cost $8.5 million, up from an earlier ballpark of $2.3 million, was considered a “deal breaker” by Esquimalt in negotiations to allow a treatment plant to be built at McLoughlin Point, says a staff report.

Adding advanced oxidation to the secondary treatment process at a cost of $5.2 million would address so-called substances of emerging concern, such as pharmaceuticals, endocrine disrupters, personal care products and household cleaners, a separate staff report says.

Given that her municipality has rejected McLoughlin Point as a potential sewage treatment plant site, issues like barging and advanced oxidation are moot, Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said.

“In my view, Seaterra is managing a project that is not a project at this point. There is no project. There is a plan,” Desjardins said.

“Seaterra and CRD should not be pushing forward on these things without the authority of that site. They don’t have it.”

The CRD has written to B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak asking the province to override Esquimalt’s decision.

Desjardins plans to introduce a motion at the CRD Wednesday calling on Seaterra to be suspended for six months or until the province responds and, until that time, Seaterra should spend no more money, neither issue nor accept any requests for proposals and enter into no contracts.

Victoria Coun. Geoff Young, who chairs the CRD’s core area liquid waste management committee, agrees that a decision is needed quickly from the province. He said Desjardins’ motion may be premature, but said it underscores the need for the province to step in.

“But if the answer is no and the province decides that this plan is off the table, then I don’t think six months is nearly long enough,” Young said, adding that finding an alternative site or sites if McLoughlin is rejected will be extremely difficult.

“Once you’ve established that any municipality can reject a site if it doesn’t want it, I think the reality is it would take a long time to develop a new plan,” Young said.

Desjardins stressed the hundreds who spoke at an Esquimalt public hearing in opposition to the McLoughlin rezoning were not just Esquimalt residents but from around the region, meaning there has been a regional rejection of the CRD’s sewage treatment plan. “It is time for us to really re-look at this. We’ve lost the public confidence,” she said.

Meanwhile, Young said he was surprised at the “relatively modest” estimated cost for including advanced oxidation in the treatment process.

“I always assumed that we would eventually have to move to higher levels of treatment, but that the costs would be in the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars and we would have to find an additional site,” Young said.

Young noted many of the people who spoke at Esquimalt’s public hearing into the McLoughlin rezoning expressed concerns about substances of emerging concern, but very few raised the issue of barging or construction traffic.

The staff report says that including advanced oxidation would mean an additional $1.33 million a year in operating costs.

Under the funding arrangement, the federal and provincial contributions to the sewage treatment program are capped at about one third each. Any additional costs over the $783-million estimate fall to the CRD.

UVic marine scientists confirm that its not a sullied sea because of our  sustainable marine sewage treatment:
Lindsay's version of CRD's sewage treatment history misses some of the key actors such as Ted Dew-Jones' seminal 1991 text on marine-based sewage treatment:

A sullied sea to Seaterra: a history of the CRD’s sewage treatment efforts

Tim Lindsay
Vibrant Victoria
May 12, 2014

Nearly 15 years ago the Capital Regional District (CRD) commissioned a $600,000 report by the Florida-based Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) to assess the environmental impact of southern Vancouver Island’s sewage discharge into the Salish Sea. Although lauded by some as a costly stall tactic that produced no tangible results, the findings implied that the daily dumping 34 million gallons of sewage into the ocean could not continue for time immemorial. SETAC, however, stopped short of stating unequivocally when, or even if, sewage treatment was actually needed. Despite this mixed bag of findings the wheels of sewage treatment had been set in motion.

Sewage treatment upgrade adds $5.2 million to budget

MAY 14, 2014 

The cost of the Capital Regional District’s proposed sewage treatment plant, if it ever finds a home, will increase by $5.2 million to add another stage to the treatment process.

CRD directors agreed to increase the cost of the $783-million sewage treatment program by $5.2 million — about $15 a household — to include advanced oxidation to the treatment process to address so-called substances of emerging concern, such as pharmaceuticals, endocrine disrupters, personal care products and household cleaners.

Directors postponed, however, a decision on whether or not to spend $8.5-million to barge material to Esquimalt’s McLoughlin Point, should that site be approved as a treatment plant site.

Barging was seen as one of the key elements by Esquimalt when it was negotiating to allow a treatment plant at McLoughlin. But the $8.5-million cost was more than three times the original ballpark figure of $2.3 million. If McLoughlin Point is approved and barging rejected, an estimated 6,322 truckloads — the equivalent of 18 round-trips a day over 18 months — will rumble on Esquimalt roads during construction.

Seaterra project director Albert Sweetnam stressed neither barging nor advanced oxidation were ever part of the project’s $783-million budget.

The status of the CRD’s sewage treatment project seems almost as murky as the millions of litres of raw sewage it’s supposed to treat. Esquimalt has rejected rezoning the McLoughlin site and is in the process of down-zoning it to prohibit a sewage treatment plant from being built there.

The CRD has appealed to the province to intervene and override Esquimalt’s decision but so far Environment Minister Mary Polak will only say the request is under consideration.

Members of the CRD’s core area liquid waste management committee, arguing $8.5 million was too rich, voted Wednesday to withdraw the offer to barge materials. But when the item hit the CRD board table later in the day, directors decided to postpone the decision until they had heard from the province.

Observers broke into applause when Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins told her colleagues McLoughlin is not available so there was no point in talking about barging.

“We shouldn’t be making decisions with respect to what will happen at that site because we don’t have that site,” she said.

Several directors worried that reneging on the commitment to barge would send the wrong message to the province given the CRD in appealing to the minister had agreed to make good on the negotiated amenity package.

“I think that to veer from this would have very serious ramifications,” said Saanich Coun. Susan Brice, adding that even at the $2.3-million barging estimate, it was never about the money.

“If indeed we are backing off from an obligation to provide barging, I say that weakens our position and in any negotiations I do not think this is the time to blink.”

Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin said barging might have been a deal breaker but with Esquimalt’s rejection of McLoughlin’s rezoning, “the deal didn’t work. There is no deal there.”

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard asked how would a mayor and councillor respond to a developer who unilaterally decided to withdraw an amenity after a public hearing.

“We would not be sympathetic. If a developer makes commitments at public hearings, mayor and council hold them to it,” Leonard said.

Meanwhile, Desjardins’ planned motion to suspend Seaterra’s operations for either six months or until the province makes a decision, will not be debated for another month as it failed to get the needed two thirds majority it needed at committee to waive notice.

Editorial: Province has role in sewage debate

MAY 17, 2014

The provincial government ordered the Capital Regional District in 2006 to plan a land-based sewage-treatment facility and have it operating by 2016. The province should now step in and help resolve the impasse over the proposal to build the facility at McLoughlin Point.

It won’t be easy and it won’t be pretty — the project has been plagued by controversy from the start. It would be hard to think of an issue that has been more divisive for the region. There’s no reason to believe the road ahead will get any smoother.

It’s not a simple matter of pro and con. The CRD conducted studies, hired consultants, weighed options and alternatives and pondered long in formulating its plan. The opposition comes in various forms, from those who oppose pieces of the plan to those who oppose it in its entirety. The opposition is not a kneejerk reaction, but is based on research, genuine concerns and logical conclusions.

Some say there’s no need for a treatment plant at all, that the current system of discharging sewage into the ocean is environmentally acceptable, that the deep, cold currents dissipate the material adequately and help it decompose naturally.

That is not idle speculation — it’s a view backed by serious studies and respected scientists.

But scientists also back the view that we cannot continue to discharge sewage into the sea.

Others are concerned about the environmental effects the operation of the proposed plant will generate, including the discharge into the ocean of toxins the process will not remove. The sludge left over from secondary treatment must be disposed of, generating more worries, and those worries are not groundless.

The sheer cost alone — projected at this point at almost $800 billion — is reason enough for nervous caution.

Some favour treatment as proposed but object to the proposed site, another reasoned perspective.

In the early stages, the CRD considered putting the plant at Macaulay Point, where it already has a pumping station. As a member of the Esquimalt council, Barb Desjardins advocated instead for McLoughlin Point, the site of a former oil tank farm, more removed from residential areas. It was one of the planks in her platform when she ran for mayor in the 2008 election, which she won decisively.

The CRD chose that site, saying it was the only spot in the region that was suitable.

A year later, Desjardins and the Esquimalt council opposed using the McLoughlin site, not a fickle flip-flop, but a change of mind based on new information — Desjardins cited studies showing the site was too small to accommodate the whole project. The sludge would have to be handled elsewhere.

The CRD acquired the McLoughlin site, which was zoned for sewage treatment. But when the CRD realized it needed a slightly larger footprint, it applied to Esquimalt for rezoning. David-sized Esquimalt said no to the Goliath-sized CRD, and thus the impasse.

While not everyone likes the direction the plans are going, the CRD has been doing its job in developing the project. Desjardins and the Esquimalt council have been doing their job in representing the wishes of their community.

The various lines have been drawn in the sand, and there’s little likelihood of those lines moving. One reasoned argument is countered by another. The debates rage back and forth, but few minds are changed. No one is going to budge.

Environment Minister Mary Polak has so far declined to have the province intervene, saying it should be sorted out at the municipal level. It’s obvious that won’t happen.

The impasse is a result of a provincial directive. The province should take a leading role in helping to end the stalemate.