June 1, 2014

- Send: in your letters!

Audio-Visual News:
Young on CFAX 27 May
Polak on CFAX 27 May
CTV covers provincial announcement
NDP MLA Fleming takes Seaterra's side
Weaver on CFAX 28 May
Karagianis interview CFAX 28 May
Desjardins and Cullington CFAX
David Anderson on CBC about sewage plant
CBC - Sewage Panel Discusses
- The RITE Plan's Youtube Channel

News stories:
Seaterra Program will not proceed with Wastewater Treatment Facility
at McLoughlin Point
Province will not Override Zoning (Esquimalt response)
CRD drops plan to build sewage plant in Esquimalt, next step unclear
Go back to province for advice on sewage dilemma, Saanich mayor says
Georgia Strait Alliance tweets its disappointment - of Esquimalt
Sewage project suffers major setback
Colwood Press Release: Working with Esquimalt
Doing the arithmetic on sewage treatment
Will sewage treatment in Victoria benefit the environment?
Editorial: An attractive design
Editorial: Unity needed on sewage issue
Comment: Ministers opened door to better sewage solution
CRD bumps sewage debate to June 11 after McLoughlin Point axed
Victoria’s Plan B — going alone on sewage

Subject sewage project to independent review (Brown)
Create land needed at Macaulay Point (Carrie)
Dumping sewage is not sustainable (Crow)
Don’t blame Esquimalt for racking up costs (Desjardins)
Victoria can change federal policy (Newcomb)
- Chamber should fight reckless spending (Scrimger)
Alabama bankruptcy contains a warning (Shepherd)



Audio-Visual News:

Young on CFAX 27 May

Sewage Committee Chairman Geoff Young was CFAX 1070 this morning with Pamela McCall to give his reaction to the Minister's announcement that she won't intervene:


Young also answered questions about next steps and alluded to a distributed system.

The public demands a proper analysis to determine what the best way forward should be. No doubt, it cannot be done with the staff and some of the decision makers who created this mess.
Polak on CFAX

Mary Polak was on CFAX today to explain the reasoning behind her decision not to intervene to force a sewage treatment plant on McLoughlin Pt which would have been at the gateway to the BC capital:
CTV covers provincial announcement

CTV covers today's announcement that the Province won't intervene to overrule Esquimalt's land use decision:


NDP MLA Fleming takes Seaterra's side

Richard says:

MLA Rob Fleming continues to disappoint when it comes to his opinions on the sewage project.


Fleming believes the decision today was done for political gain and accused Esquimalt once again of parochialism.

Rob uses the same old attack that we've heard over and over again, that people who "weren't for treatment" suddenly want better treatment. That's a straw man argument implying we're going to go broke.

Listen to Rob suggest that proponents of distributed tertiary system have said it could be built for a dollar. I kid you not. Listen from 4m00s.

Rob, further claims that North Vancouver will steal the funding from the CRD because its plan is in doubt. Fat chance.


Rob was the first person I went to talk with about the flaws of this project 18 months ago anticipating him to take the role of Environment Minister when the NDP formed government.

That was a lucky escape.
Weaver on CFAX 28 May

Andrew Weaver was on CFAX 1070 this morning with Pamela McCall to share this thoughts and answer questions on the sewage project.


The sewage talk beings at 4m22s.
Karagianis interview CFAX 28 May

This CFAX interview with MLA Maurine Karagianis has left me nearly speechless:


You might want to sit down before you listen to it...
Desjardins and Cullington CFAX

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins and Colwood Councillor Judith Cullington were on CFAX 1070 this morning (May 29) with Alan Perry to talk about doing sewage treatment on the small scale within their municipalities:
David Anderson on CBC about sewage plant

Former MP and Minister of Environment David Anderson is also honorary president of ARESST:


CBC - Sewage Panel Discusses


"CRD has taken longer that it took to put a man on the moon" - Martyn Brown

"Seaterra and CRD was never able to amongst the population of Greater Victoriat get enough of a consensus with some moral authority to go ahead with the plan in the location that they had it" - Elizabeth Cull


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:

Seaterra Program will not proceed with Wastewater Treatment Facility
at McLoughlin Point

May 27, 2014


Victoria, BC - The Seaterra Program will not be proceeding with the
implementation of a wastewater treatment facility at McLoughlin Point,
following a decision today by Minister of Environment Mary Polak and
Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes.
The treatment plant was to be part of the Seaterra Program,
established to bring the region into compliance with the Federal and
Provincial regulations for sewage treatment.

"It is regrettable that the province has made this decision," said CRD
Board Chair Alastair Bryson. "The Capital Regional District is now
unable to implement the provincially approved Core Area Liquid Waste
Management Plan and our funding agreements with the federal and
provincial governments are contingent on the implementation of this

The Capital Regional District (CRD) sought direction from Minister
Polak and the Provincial Government in April, when the Township of
Esquimalt Council rejected the CRD's revised McLoughlin Point rezoning

In May 2011, the CRD adopted the Core Area Liquid Waste Management
Plan, which identified McLoughlin Point as the location of the
wastewater treatment plant. Under the direction of the Provincial
Government, the CRD established an independent Commission to deliver
the major components of the program and took significant steps to
advance the program including developing a funding agreement outlining
the methodology for the construction of a wastewater treatment
facility, payment and terms.

The CRD believes that after extensive and exhaustive studies and
analysis it developed a program that would have met the needs of the
core area municipalities and residents for several decades to come at
the least cost to the taxpayers, while meeting the Provincial and
Federal regulations.

"Federal funding requires a satisfactory outcome that meets the
regulation," said Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee Chair
Geoff Young. "It is unfortunate that the provincial government would
order, agree to fund and then not assist us as they could in carrying
out this program."

The CRD is now faced with the challenge of determining how it can
satisfy regional priorities and meet the Federal government deadline
of having a wastewater treatment facility in place in the capital
region by 2020. It is unclear at this time whether the Provincial
government direction will put access to federal funding at risk.

In light of this significant decision, the CRD Board and committee
will be meeting on June 4 to discuss next steps and the future of the
Seaterra Program.

The CRD is a local government that delivers 200+ regional,
sub-regional and local services for residents of the region which
includes 13 municipalities and three electoral areas within 2370
square kilometres on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
Governed by a 24 member Board of Directors, the CRD is working to
serve the public, and build a vibrant, livable and sustainable region.


For media inquiries, please contact:
Cailey Hopkins
CRD Corporate Communications
Tel: 250.360.3225
Cell: 250.516.4976

Province will not Override Zoning (Esquimalt response)

Township of Esquimalt
May 27, 2014

Township of Esquimalt Appreciates Minister Mary Polak’s Announcement that the Provincial Government will not Override Council’s Zoning Decisions

The Mayor and Council of the Township of Esquimalt wish to express their gratitude to BC’s Environment Minister, Mary Polak, following her announcement that “the Province will not attempt to override the zoning decisions of the duly elected Esquimalt council”.  They also extend their thanks to Coralee Oakes, BC’s Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, and all those that took time to participate in the Public Hearings.

Mayor Desjardins stated, “Recent decisions made by both Esquimalt and the Province are a testament that valid and meaningful public input does make a difference. Mayor and Council wish to express their appreciation for every resident of the region who took the time to attend public hearings held by the Township related to this issue.”

Esquimalt’s Council rejected a zoning bylaw amendment submitted by the Capital Regional District that would have facilitated the development of a centralized secondary sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point.  This decision followed four days of public hearings during which time Council heard from many residents of the Capital Region.  Most presenters provided detailed analyses that raised serious questions in Council’s mind about the environmental, economic, and social feasibility of the proposed sewage treatment plant.  The CRD was not able to adequately address the concerns of Council and the public.

The Mayor and Council remain committed to finding a solution to the sewage treatment issue in the Capital Region and, for example, have recently embarked on a study to ascertain the feasibility of incorporating a municipal scale tertiary treatment plant with state of the art resource recovery. The Township is working with the Cascadia Green Building Council to embark on a global “Living Building” design competition for the Esquimalt Village Project that will see design teams from around the world submit concepts for a “Living Building” and “Living Neighbourhood” in the heart of Esquimalt.

The Mayor and Council are excited about the numerous creative and innovative opportunities that are now available following Minister Polak’s announcement.  The Minister’s decision is a wise acknowledgement of the Township’s position on the law and facts supporting local government zoning authority, and the importance of inter-governmental respect and cooperation.

For more information, please contact:
Mayor Barbara Desjardins, Township of Esquimalt
Tel: 250-883-1944

CRD drops plan to build sewage plant in Esquimalt, next step unclear

MAY 27, 2014

With the provincial government refusing to intervene, McLoughlin Point can no longer be considered as a possible site for a sewage treatment plant, says the Capital Regional District, which will now examine other options.

“I think this is going to cost a lot and that is my main concern,” said Victoria Coun. Geoff Young, who chairs the CRD’s core area liquid waste management committee.

“We will get sewage treatment, that much is clear. It’s going to be delayed but we’re going to have to have it.”

Langford Coun. Denise Blackwell, past committee chairwoman, agreed with Young. “This action is going to mean the dollars will keep adding up. People talk about having a number of different plants. ... I certainly hope this doesn’t mean we’ll lose our grants because that’s also a concern,” Blackwell said.

The federal government has agreed to contribute $253.4 million and the province $248 million but with a 2018 deadline for completion.

The CRD asked the province last month to intervene after Esquimalt refused to rezone McLoughlin Point for a sewage treatment plant. Esquimalt council further resolved to change the zoning to specifically disallow a treatment plant there.

B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak said Tuesday that the province will leave it to local governments to resolve the dispute.

“It is a very serious thing for a provincial government to try to undo what local governments, through their zoning, are legally allowed to do,” she said.

“At the end of the day, it is quite proper for the local governments, who are elected by their taxpaying public ... to resolve these issues themselves.”

CRD board chairman Alastair Bryson called Polak’s decision “regrettable.”

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins praised Polak for respecting the autonomy of local governments. “I think it’s unfortunate that there was this perception that the ministry would come in and trump everything and make it happen,” she said. “I’m so pleased that the minister didn’t. This really can restore public faith in public process.”

Desjardins said the CRD board has to hit the pause button on Seaterra, the commission appointed by the province to oversee the megaproject, “because they don’t have a project anymore.” The CRD then has to look at taking a different approach, instead of focusing on one municipality.

To date, about $48 million has been spent on the sewage treatment project — $19 million in planning between 2006 and 2013 and $29 million in implementation from 2012 to the end of April 2014. Another $20 million has been committed, CRD officials say. The entire project was budgeted at $783 million.

CRD officials hoped to hold a special meeting June 4 to discuss options but were unable to schedule it. Many board members are out of the city attending the Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention in Niagara Falls. The issue now will be discussed at the regular June 11 meeting.

Seaterra has said every month of additional delay is adding $1 million to the cost of the project.


Go back to province for advice on sewage dilemma, Saanich mayor says

MAY 27, 2014 

The Capital Regional District should go back to the province for help in finding a solution to its sewage treatment dilemma — only this time it should knock on a different door, says Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard.

Environment Minister Mary Polak said Tuesday that the province will leave it to local governments to resolve their dispute and will not override Esquimalt’s refusal to rezone McLoughlin Point for a regional sewage treatment plant.

Leonard wants the Capital Regional District to formally approach Minister of Community Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes, who is responsible for local government, for help in resolving the impasse.

“There’s a menu that the minister [can use] to help municipalities from time to time — fact finder, facilitator, mediator or arbitrator,” Leonard said.

“I wouldn’t be prescriptive in terms of the invitation to her to come and help, but I think given the number of years we’ve been at this and the circumstances we find ourselves in, having the government help us move to the next stage would be worthwhile,” Leonard said.

“We’ve got to figure out how we do what’s best for the environment and the taxpayers going forward. In some way, it’s a new reality when the government won’t use the [Environmental Management Act] when it has been used in past history,” he said.

The CRD had asked that Polak exercise her authority under the Environmental Management Act to suspend provisions of Esquimalt’s zoning bylaw that stand in the way of the CRD proceeding with building a plant at McLoughlin Point.

The request certainly wasn’t without precedent. Twenty years ago a provincial order was issued allowing the expansion of Hartland Landfill.

The province’s refusal to break the impasse with Esquimalt left many local politicians scratching their heads about what to do next.

“I really don’t know what the CRD can do next,” said Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin.

“It’s taken us 10 years to get to here, so are we going to get an extension for 10 more years to figure out the next plan?”

Langford Coun. Denise Blackwell, past chairwoman of the CRD’s core area liquid waste management committee, was at a loss to understand why the province refused to intervene.

“The legislation actually contemplated this very event. So if they can’t use it for what it was designed for, I don’t know why they even have it in there,” she said.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, meanwhile, wants different options explored, including multiple plants.

“I’ve always said a distributed system has a lot of opportunities,” she said.

“Everyone participates and everyone has their opportunity to make their own decisions about where they want their sewage treatment plant.

“There is so much opportunity for a different plan, but we needed open minds, and I think this decision from the minister says, ‘This is not an avenue you can take. You need to change.’ ”

Blackwell said the distributed model was explored but rejected as too expensive.

“The more plants you have the more money it costs,” she said.

Fortin said the province’s decision won’t make it easy to find acceptable sites when a municipality can refuse to zone it.

“I do not know how we’re going to find one, two, three or four sites [for a distributed system],” Fortin said.

Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver said the CRD has taken so long on the issue that it has lost the public trust.

“The message being sent is, essentially, ‘Get your act together CRD. Get the social licence. Bring in the municipalities and put forward a solution that everyone can buy into.’ ”

Richard Atwell, a director with the Sewage Treatment Action Group, agreed.

“It certainly supports our position that the public consultation wasn’t done properly and I think the province understood that, that the public wasn’t on board with the plan and in fact there are other opportunities and other plans that haven’t been fully looked at.”

Weaver believes the district should be looking at an approach that treats both organic matter and toxins.

“It stops those from going back in the ocean, because it’s those that are causing the environmental effects.”


Georgia Strait Alliance tweets its disappointment - of Esquimalt

CRD's sewage plant fan club doesn't just include Victoria Chamber of Commerce but also Georgia Strait Alliance. GSA tweets:
- Congrats ‪#‎Esquimalt‬ on obstructing progress in ‪#‎CRD‬. Will you pay in 2020 when feds start fining region? ‪#‎yyj‬ ‪#‎shame‬
- Inaction = loss of $, delays & more pollution. Indefensible. "Victoria sewage plant won't get provincial push ‪#‎bcpoli‬

Sewage project suffers major setback (Leyne)

MAY 28, 2014 

Environment Minister Mary Polak isn’t going to wade into it, so that leaves Greater Victoria standing in it.

The sewage treatment argument, to be precise.

Polak served notice Tuesday she won’t intervene in the impasse over siting a treatment plant in Esquimalt. That’s a move that just cost the Capital Regional District “scores of millions,” by one informed estimate, in engineering work devoted to a plant there that will likely not be built.

It also throws the CRD back several steps on the timeline for the project. And the timeline is crucial to several hundred million dollars worth of federal and provincial funding that is being offered — but is not on the table forever. It also raises doubts about the whole public-private partnership set up at the province’s insistence to get it done.

There seemed to be a view in some quarters that Esquimalt’s decision to vote down the siting of the plant there meant that the concept of sewage treatment had been voted down.

Polak took pains to reject that idea. “The question isn’t whether or not they’ll get sewage. They will, because its a federal and provincial requirement. They’ll get sewage treatment. The question is do they foot the bill entirely, their taxpayers, or will the provincial and federal governments assist them?

“If they start to slip on their timelines then they are at risk of losing the funding.”

Polak begged off because the B.C. Liberals are loathe to violate their own community charter, the rewrite of municipal law that gave local governments much more autonomy. The province can still intervene on environmental issues under legislated circumstances. But this mess doesn’t meet the threshold that would trigger such a move, according to provincial officials.

Politically, they’re keeping hands off because it’s such a hard issue to win any points on. The nearest Liberal seat is 150 kilometres away and the only significant promise the Liberals have made to the region — one-third funding for treatment — has started a lot more arguments than it has construction.

You have to wonder when they will decide there are lots better, easier places to spend large sums of money.

Regionally, officials who are privately amazed at Polak’s call now have to go back somewhere close to square one. Legal challenges may be considered, but that’s unlikely and probably won’t go anywhere.

The job now is to find a new plan that’s close enough to the original plan that they can salvage some of the engineering millions spent to date. While that gets started, there will be a host of people coming forward with new ideas. All the discounted ideas will be revived and checked out yet again.

Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver started that ball rolling, saying the CRD should look at better, more innovative ideas. The senior government money is good until 2018, so there is time to put a better plan together.

There will be a lot of “I told you sos.”

More amenities and benefits are likely to be added on to the next version in order to make it more attractive, all of which add to the cost. And there will be a lot of municipal campaigning starting, which will freeze out any real progress for probably a year or more.

There might also be a rethink of Seaterra’s role, and existence. The P3 approach was dictated by the province, but it involved trying for the crucial rezoning without having real design drawings to show people what the plan looked like. There will be some thought of reverting back to direct CRD management, so engineering and design work can be contracted directly, so citizens will have something to look at during public hearings other than abstract visions.

Ironically, Seaterra was expected to unveil the drawings of what the Esquimalt plant would look like this week. They may never now see the light of day. Barring a major breakthrough, it’s likely the whole regroup and rethink exercise will land the region right back near where it started; eyeing a waterfront site that is surrounded by people who don’t want a treatment plant as a neighbour.

The only thing that is clear is the view from one official: “This is going to cost us a lot of money.”


Colwood Press Release: Working with Esquimalt
May 28, 2014 Press Release from Colwood:


"We look forward to investigating sewage treatment solutions that enhance Esquimalt, Colwood and each of the communities in a manner that contributes to a larger regional solution,” said Esquimalt Mayor, Barb Desjardins.

The Mayors of Colwood and Esquimalt will be working together to bring a proposal to the next Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee Meeting."
Doing the arithmetic on sewage treatment

Esquimalt shoots CRD in foot. Now what?

JUNE 2014


Will sewage treatment in Victoria benefit the environment?

With a likely capital cost of between $800 million and $1 billion, it had better. Focus explores the issue with two scientists.

JUNE 2014

Editorial: An attractive design

MAY 29, 2014

It was too late to change any decisions, but Greater Victoria residents finally got a look at what the planned sewage treatment plant would have looked like.

Seaterra, the commission overseeing the project for the Capital Regional District, says it planned to release the design on Wednesday, but after the McLoughlin Point plant was scuttled, it released the drawings on Tuesday.

The images, which Esquimalt’s design committee said met its criteria, are so different from what everyone imagined that they might have persuaded some opponents if they had been available during the acrimonious public hearings in Esquimalt. Some conceptions had suggested an ugly concrete box that would scream “sewage plant” at anyone entering Victoria’s harbour.

In fact, the designs show a building with a glass front, a green roof and an airy feeling that would stand up well alongside any other building on the harbour.

The provincial government’s insistence on a public-private partnership helped keep the costs down, but also helped keep the design from the public’s view until it was too late. Had the CRD hired an engineering firm in the traditional way, it could have had at least preliminary designs available before it asked Esquimalt to rezone the land. Instead, Seaterra, not wanting to give any of the three competing firms an unfair advantage, had to keep the three designs under wraps throughout the rezoning, so residents and politicians were arguing about something they had never seen.

It was still a sewage plant, but a look at the design might have changed a few minds inside and outside Esquimalt.



Editorial: Unity needed on sewage issue

MAY 29, 2014

While some might rejoice at Environment Minister Mary Polak’s decision not to intervene in the regional sewage issue, this is not a time of triumph for anyone. The Capital Regional District and its member municipalities need to work together for a solution to avoid painful costs.

After Esquimalt declined to amend the zoning of McLoughlin Point and announced its intention to prohibit sewage treatment there, the CRD asked Polak to intervene. Even though secondary sewage treatment has been ordered by the province, Polak says the issue should be sorted out at the municipal level.

That leaves the CRD with a plan for a sewage-treatment plant — on which it has already spent $48 million — and no place to put it.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking inexorably toward the deadlines imposed by the federal and provincial governments, deadlines to which half a billion dollars in funding is attached.

Some critics have called for a different approach — building several smaller plants instead of one large one — but the CRD explored that avenue and concluded it would be more expensive than one central plant. Furthermore, the difficulty the CRD encountered in trying to get approval for one sewage site would be multiplied by the number of sites involved.

Walking away from secondary sewage treatment, as some suggest, is not an option. Those who advocate this route point to the CRD’s own studies saying the current system of discharging effluent into ocean currents is effective and safe. But senior governments didn’t buy that, and ordered the CRD to plan and build secondary treatment. The CRD has no choice but to move ahead with secondary treatment.

There is a chance Ottawa and the province could be convinced to change their minds — about the same chance as winning a lottery. Efforts in that direction would be largely wasted. In this fall’s municipal election, some incumbents might be replaced by candidates who oppose the current plan, but that won’t change the stance of senior governments, nor will it change the math.

Exploring new avenues is not free. More studies will cost more money, and won’t necessarily result in new conclusions. A site so distant it is acceptable to all — if such a site could be found — would mean more pipelines and more pumping, adding to construction and operating costs. And each new dollar added to the final price tag will come out of local pockets, not out of the federal or provincial share, which is capped.

This is the most divisive issue to afflict the capital region, yet unity and collaboration are necessary to see the project to successful completion. Going door to door in search of a new site will be useless — Polak’s decision has set a precedent, and municipalities now know they can slam the door in the CRD’s face.

The CRD isn’t a separate entity unto itself; it’s a collective of which the municipalities are part. Everyone will pay for sewage treatment; it behooves everyone to work together for the best-possible solution. Unanimity will be impossible, so compromise will be necessary. The project will have to be built in someone’s backyard.

An adversarial atmosphere has plagued the sewage project from the start. That wasn’t helped by the CRD’s surprise announcement of its purchase of the Viewfield Road site for a biosolids plant.

It’s time for the CRD and the municipalities to sit down together and say: “We have been ordered to build secondary sewage treatment and we need a place to put it. How can we achieve that?” The province gave the order, so it should be involved in the process, rather than leaving the CRD twisting in the wind.

This shouldn’t be an “us and them” situation.


Comment: Ministers opened door to better sewage solution

MAY 29, 2014 0

Environment Minister Mary Polak and Community Minister Coralee Oakes have informed the Capital Regional District that the province will not act to suspend Esquimalt’s McLoughlin Point zoning decisions. This leaves the CRD with no viable plan for sewage treatment, which still must be accomplished under federal and provincial directives.

All in all, however, this is not a bad thing.

After ordering sewage treatment, then-environment minister Barry Penner identified provincial objectives including minimizing taxpayer cost by maximizing beneficial use of resources and generation of offsetting revenues, optimizing the distribution of infrastructure to accomplish this, aggressively pursuing opportunities to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and optimizing “smart growth” results (such as district services, density and Dockside Green-like innovation).

Clearly, Penner’s intent was to insure maximum environmental benefit and value for money. Such objectives are as supportable now as they were then. It is difficult, however, to see how the CRD’s project could have met them.

To begin with, it was not designed around resource recovery. Instead, a basic design was selected and resource recovery became an add-on, hampered by decisions to place major infrastructure remote from recovery opportunities. Consequently, it is unlikely that “maximizing beneficial use of resources and generation of offsetting revenue” could ever have been accomplished.

These failings likely limited value for money and would have been unfortunate from a financial perspective.

From an environmental perspective, they would have been much more critical. Penner was justified in identifying greenhouse-gas reduction as a major objective. Recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports confirm that climate change is a looming catastrophe and greenhouse-gas reduction must be greatly accelerated. Given the challenges we face, it should be an absolute requirement that all major projects maximize greenhouse-gas reduction and climate-change response.

The CRD project did predict greenhouse-gas reductions, but these reductions were likely far from maximal. Optimizing greenhouse-gas reduction means placing infrastructure appropriately and maximizing resource recovery. This simply did not happen. As a result, CRD citizens were left to question whether they were getting sufficient environmental benefit and clear value for money from the enormous sums to be spent. Over time, more and more of them did exactly that.

The decision made by Polak and Oakes took courage, but it provides a new opportunity to create better answers to legitimate questions and concerns. The ministers truly have opened the door to a better outcome. We in the core area must seize this opportunity to rethink the flawed project created the first time around and meet the laudable objectives established some seven years ago by the province.

Ultimately, the core area and its citizens will benefit from the better outcome that could and should emerge and that, most certainly, would be a good thing.

- Vic Derman is a Saanich councillor, a CRD director and a member of the Core Area Liquid Waste Committee.


CRD bumps sewage debate to June 11 after McLoughlin Point axed

Daniel Palmer
Victoria News
May 29, 2014

Meetings that could decide the future of the Capital Regional District's $788-million Seaterra program are being pushed back another week, as many directors are out of town or unable to make the original emergency June 4 discussion.

The CRD board and committee will now be meeting on June 11 at 625 Fisgard St. to discuss next steps after McLoughlin Point was definitively ruled out as a wastewater treatment site earlier this week. B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak refused to intervene and force through rezoning and development at the site, saying it's up to the CRD to build consensus for a regional sewage plan.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins hailed Polak’s comments as a victory for the autonomy of local governments across B.C.

“The atmosphere in the community, and the region, is a huge sigh of relief,” Desjardins said. “People also are feeling like they participated in a public process and it made a difference. That’s a huge validation.”

Desjardins said Seaterra's program management structure was designed for a plan that no longer exists, and the decision before CRD directors on June 11 will be to "resolve or dissolve" the current project.

"We really need to pull together and find a way forward from here," she said. "But the minister made a very wise and responsible decision, as municipalities across the province would have otherwise been weighing in on the fact that their decisions could be overturned at anytime."

Victoria’s Plan B — going alone on sewage

MAY 30, 2014

Given the apparent collapse of the Capital Regional District’s sewage treatment plan, Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin and Coun. Marianne Alto say it’s time for the city to look at doing it alone.

The two — both CRD directors — will seek city council support next week for a resolution calling on city staff to “on a priority basis” provide council with information on the implications, including both risks and opportunities, on the city building its own sewage treatment plant.

“I’ve worked really hard to be a regional player. But what do you do with a region that will not play?” Fortin said Friday.

“It’s time to be leaders. It’s time to grant that our residents do support sewage treatment and they are not waiting any longer,” Alto said.

The two said it’s only prudent to have a Plan B after Environment Minister Mary Polak announced this week that she would not overturn Esquimalt’s refusal to rezone McLoughlin Point for a regional sewage treatment plant.

With McLoughlin off the table, CRD bureaucrats are scrambling to recommend options and local politicians are wondering what to do next.

The province has ordered the CRD to have a plant up and running by 2018. The federal government has set its own deadline of 2020 and Polak said she still expects those deadlines to be met.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on $500 million in senior government funding for the regional treatment plant, which some fear may be lost. Fortin said he has been in contact with government officials to make the case for the city’s share of grant money should it go it alone on sewage treatment.

Victoria Coun. Geoff Young, chairman of the CRD’s core area liquid- waste management committee, called Fortin and Alto’s motion “regrettable but necessary.”

“I think all of the municipalities will have to be thinking along these lines,” Young said.

Victoria would not be the first municipality to express a desire to build its own treatment plant as the CRD’s protracted efforts to get the job done have ground to a halt.

Earlier this year, CRD directors gave Colwood the green light to investigate building a treatment plant near Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre. With only about 25 per cent of Colwood residents on the sewage system and the rest using septic tanks, the municipality argues that it makes more sense for it to take a modular approach — building capacity as needed.

Esquimalt had already been examining the possibility of a waste-to- resource centre as part of its village revitalization project. “The potential there is that it would be able to treat our sewage, certainly, but also the possibility of treating View Royal’s sewage,” Mayor Barb Desjardins said.

She said it was “fantastic” Victoria would consider building on its own.

Young said that with Polak’s refusal to intervene, “it’s a whole new world.”

“Now that we know everything has to be done by consensus in terms of locating facilities, it really means that different municipalities will be going in different directions,” Young said.

If municipalities go it alone, each will have to get its own waste management plan approved — a time- consuming process, Young said.

He is convinced that a multiple plant approach would be very expensive.

“I think if the local taxpayers get away with paying twice as much as they were scheduled to pay under the plan that could have been approved, I think they should consider themselves fortunate.”

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard hopes to persuade CRD directors at their next meeting June 11 to appeal to Minister of Community Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes for help through arbitration, mediation or facilitation.



Raeside Cartoon



Subject sewage project to independent review (Brown)

MAY 29, 2014
Re: “Sewage project suffers major setback,” May 28.

This decision by the provincial government should be viewed as an opportunity, not as a setback.

From the beginning, the federal government’s edict that all towns must have secondary waste treatment has been both challenged and defended by Victorians. It does, however, appear from the deadlines given by the federal government that there is time to, once and for all, settle the problem.

Create, therefore, an independent review made up of scientists, engineers, health practitioners and economists. I suggest, in spite of what might be put forward, that such a group could be assembled in a matter of days, rather than weeks, and I also suggest if would not necessarily be expensive. There are many with the needed background willing to donate their input.

It is time to resolve what is needed and what are the cost benefits. With so many other needs sourced from our taxes, we must be assured that the money is spent on the things for which we get the best return. This is, with respect to the waste treatment plant, of much contention.

We now have the opportunity to do what is required to put this to rest. If we don’t, in all probability the matter will drag on, time will run out, the federal and provincial governments’ time limits will run out, the project will have started and we in Victoria will have to find a billion dollars, which could break the bank.

J.R. Brown



Create land needed at Macaulay Point (Carrie)

MAY 29, 2014

Re: “McLoughlin out as sewage plant site,” May 28.

I grow weary of the constant media comment that Esquimalt does not want a sewage-treatment facility in its backyard. The citizens, through our elected officials, have vetoed a too-small piece of land that is the last undeveloped property welcoming visitors to Victoria.

Land reclamation is a way of life in many countries. If the Macaulay outflow is so critical to the Capital Regional District, take an architectural lesson from Dubai and Japan and create the land necessary at that point. Money wasted on Viewfield Road and double pipelines to Hartland might be better applied to creative solutions.

Warren Carrie


Dumping sewage is not sustainable (Crow)

It astonishes me that anyone could believe that dumping more than 18 million kilograms a year of untreated municipal waste into our near-shore marine environment is a sustainable activity, especially when you consider how the tidal currents circulate within the Victoria bight. That information is readily available in a current atlas for Juan de Fuca Strait published by the Canadian Hydrographic Service.

The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry report, a blue-ribbon panel of scientists, recommended a minimum level of secondary treatment for the Capital Regional District. The “absence of evidence is evidence of absence” argumentation advanced by sewage-treatment critics is tiresome and is not a scientific rationale for continuing to pollute.

Forward-thinking scientists know there are research gaps and work to mitigate — not deny — threats to the marine environment and public health. They understand the concept of bioaccumulation and support precautionary principles.

Given the sheer volume and complexity of our municipal waste and the weakened and often redundant tidal currents throughout the Victoria bight, particularly during the ebb phase of the tide, there is little doubt that the effects are all negative.

An obvious example would be the regulations that restrict recreational harvest of swimming scallops from Area 19, a closure that includes the entire seabed from Race Rocks to Sidney.

Perhaps a less-obvious example is that our magnificent resident orcas are the most contaminated population of whales known to science, a situation the region’s torrent of untreated municipal wastewater could not possibly be helping.

Allan Crow, commercial fisherman (the guy in the CRD "dumping" video and who got his CRD presentation hacked last summer)
East Sooke



Don’t blame Esquimalt for racking up costs (Desjardins)

Re: “Esquimalt should reconsider sewage issue,” letter, May 23.

Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Carter incorrectly indicated that the Capital Regional District “purchased industrial land zoned to permit wastewater treatment” and suggested Esquimalt could be on the hook for millions of dollars. Both points are wrong.

The CRD acquired McLoughlin Point before it was zoned for wastewater treatment-plant use and then approached the matter as if no zoning was necessary. There was no CRD “good faith” (not even mentioning the secret acquisition of the Viewfield property) nor township “downzoning” and therefore much of the rest of Carter’s letter is nothing more than fearmongering.

Esquimalt is not responsible for the $47 million the CRD has spent, nor the other millions to be spent. Section 914 of the Local Government Act states: “Compensation is not payable to any person for any reduction in the value of that person’s interest in land, or for any loss or damages that result from the adoption of [a zoning bylaw]”).

Assumptions CRD consultants used to assess the costs of other approaches were incorrect and dated, yet some persist in highlighting those numbers. Also, the position that no other sites are available is incorrect.

The CRD and Seaterra continue to spend millions of dollars implementing a plan for which they do not have approval. If the CRD had approached the sewage issue with better information, on the facts and the law, we might well be in a different position today. But the fact we are not rests solely with the CRD and, most important, it is no reason to charge forward with the wrong plan.

Barbara Desjardins
Mayor of Esquimalt

Victoria can change federal policy (Newcomb)

MAY 31, 2014

Re: “Unity needed on sewage issue,” editorial, May 29.

The Times Colonist editorial suggested that political unity was needed, whereas this is a scientific issue, and requires a science-based assessment.

A U.S. precedent shows that senior governments can and do allow exemptions for safe and effective marine-based treatment.

When, as Canada’s regulators have done, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tried to impose a single treatment standard on the whole country, resistance by coastal communities like Victoria resulted in Congress ordering a review of the regulations. As a result, U.S. regulators were found to have been overzealous, there were amendments to the regulations and about 50 coastal communities were exempted from replacing their marine treatment systems.

Congress declared that the evidence in support of the practice of marine treatment “is overwhelming.”

If there were hard evidence that our current system has caused just one case of human illness or one contaminated fish, then the panic to meet a deadline would be justifiable. Given the lack of any such evidence, categorization of our system as high-risk is arbitrary, unsupportable and crying out to be challenged. Appropriate categorization to low-risk would extend deadlines by 20 years.

We need that extra time to make a science-based assessment of whether construction of a land-based treatment complex — secondary or tertiary — is wise, given that it will add to the neglected escalating climate-change catastrophe.

John Newcomb
Secretary, on behalf of the board
The Association for Environmentally Sustainable Sewage Treatment


Chamber should fight reckless spending (Scrimger)

MAY 27, 2014  

Re: “Esquimalt should reconsider sewage issue,” letter, May 23.

Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Carter’s claim that Esquimalt is liable for the hundreds of millions of dollars in “costs” is nonsense.

Mayor Barb Desjardins and Esquimalt council are respecting the public process that any developer must go through when applying for municipal re-zoning. If developers fail to satisfy the legitimate concerns of our elected officials — officials who are there to protect the public interest — then too bad. The developers don’t get to “sue” for sunk costs in making a non-qualifying application because they made bad business decisions.

Given that Carter and the 1,500 members of the chamber of commerce have identified municipal taxation as their No. 1 concern, it is odd that he has joined the stampede to spend a billion taxpayer dollars on a high-environmental-impact project for which no cost-benefit analysis has been done.

Rather than join the spending lobbyists, including the Capital Regional District and Seaterra, which are putting huge pressure on the mayor and council for this unjustified project, Carter should, for the sake of all Victoria business owners, be thanking and supporting Esquimalt for protecting the public purse from such reckless expenditures.

Paul Scrimger


Alabama bankruptcy contains a warning (Shepherd):