July 6, 2014


Audio-Visual News:
FOCUS Magazine on CFAX
- The RITE Plan's Youtube Channel

News stories:
​CRD sewage project funding still key concern for Oak Bay residents
Mayor Jensen's flip-flop
Cost-benefit competition - Win $1000!
Don’t count on funding to build multiple sewage plants, CRD told

Sewage treatment: Cost/benefits? (Dew-Jones)
Fix old sewage pipes before building plant (Jewsbury)
Protest the protest (Platts)
Obstructionism in Victoria (Randall)
Stick to current sewage plan (Stephens)


Audio-Visual News:

FOCUS Magazine on CFAX

David Broadland and Leslie Campbell were on CFAX 1070 on July 2 with Ian Jessop talking about the latest issue of Focus Magazine:


They start of by taking about Nils Jensen's flip-flop on sewage and then going into the murky world of JSB engineering.

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:

Atwell's facebook comment on story below :
Mayor of Oak Bay Nil Jensen, gets it wrong, again. He feels if Esquimalt, one of those seven communities, had concerns, they should have pulled out earlier. CRD left the rezoning until the end. If they had done this years earlier, they would have learned through the public hearing process what was wrong with the site and saved everyone a lot of trouble. Objective #2 of Liquid Waste Management Plans is to properly consult the public. It's implied that you do this early in the process, not after you've already made a decision. 

CRD sewage project funding still key concern for Oak Bay residents

Christine van Reeuwyk
Oak Bay News
Jul 3, 2014

The resounding rejection of a wastewater treatment plant in Esquimalt is being tested once more by the Capital Regional District board.

During a June 18 meeting, the CRD board agreed to cover Esquimalt’s capital costs should that community approve the construction of the plant at McLoughlin Point, part of the core area’s secondary sewage treatment project.

Esquimalt council rejected the plant in early April after holding four days of public hearings, where the majority of speakers were against the $788-million Seaterra program.

“My concern for Oak Bay is, if we don’t have this particular project up and running, this plant built in the time required, it’s going to affect the utility and tax costs to residents,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen.

“This could be an astounding amount of money we’re going to have to pay and not just in Oak Bay … right through the seven communities that agreed to go forward.”

He feels if Esquimalt, one of those seven communities, had concerns, they should have pulled out earlier.

“It’s a very unfortunate situation we find ourselves in. They had the opportunity in 2010 to remove themselves from the group of seven,” he said. “The issues being brought up right now have been addressed in the last five or six years, they’re just being recycled as objections.”

The CRD is scrambling to comply with federal and provincial regulations that require secondary sewage treatment by 2020. Should it fail to meet those deadlines, about $500 million in funding contributions from higher levels of government is at risk. CRD directors are also spurred on by the threat of personal liability for failure to comply with the regulations, and B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak has indicated she won’t exercise the province’s ability to force the McLoughlin site.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said some residents are feeling “betrayed and upset” that the CRD doesn’t accept the township’s opposition to the McLoughlin site, and she’ll continue to hold discussions with regional mayors and First Nations leaders about the possibility of a distributed treatment model. Colwood has already formally backed out of the Seaterra program and is pursuing its own sewage treatment site.

“We think we can gather some information fairly quickly to help us with the distributed model discussion,” Desjardins said. “There’s a lot of balls in the air right now and we need to act on them fairly quickly.”

CRD directors will ask Desjardins to respond to their new offer by July 16, a deadline Desjardins said isn’t feasible.

“I’ve already given the CRD an indication that’s probably not a valid timeframe,” she said.

The CRD board recommended three other concurrent options to comply with sewage treatment deadlines. They are to ask regional municipalities and First Nations if they’re willing to offer a site for a wastewater treatment plant; gather information on the feasibility and cost of a distributed treatment model and ask the province to take responsibility for sewage treatment in the Capital Region.



Mayor Jensen's flip-flop

Focus Magazine

Let’s apply the climate-change lens to a comparative cost-benefit analysis of sewage treatment options.

Environment Minister Mary Polak’s refusal to invoke an untested provision of the Environmental Management Act may have saved Capital Region taxpayers the additional cost—on top of the $65 million the CRD has already spent—of a long and costly court battle with no certain outcome. In a May 27 letter Polak told the CRD, “Even if the Province were willing to intervene, the facts at this time do not provide a strong basis for intervention using the provisions of the Environmental Management Act.”

What seems clear now is that a completely new plan for sewage treatment in the core municipalities needs to be developed. Where will it come from?

We might look to Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen for direction on this. At a sewage committee meeting back in December 2012, Jensen asked his fellow CRD directors to pause and do “a full environmental study that will assess the comparative environmental impact of the current process and proposed process for disposing of liquid waste before the CRD plans are finalized.” Jensen also said, “The motion does not seek to abandon the idea of treatment, nor does it seek to overly delay the project.” His motion to do such a study was defeated, but among those directors who supported him was Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins. In support of Jensen’s call for a comparative study, Desjardins said, “We should be using climate change as one of the overall lenses” through which projects like this are considered.

READ MORE HERE: http://focusonline.ca/?q=node/748
Cost-benefit competition - Win $1000!


Don’t count on funding to build multiple sewage plants, CRD told

JULY 5, 2014

The Capital Regional District’s plan to build a regional sewage plant at McLoughlin Point has been frustrated by Esquimalt’s refusal to rezone the site.   Photograph By ADRIAN LAM, Times Colonist

Greater Victoria municipalities wanting to go it on their own for sewage treatment should not assume provincial funding as part of their plans, says B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak.

And the province will not extend its 2018 funding deadline for the Capital Regional District to have sewage treatment in place, Polak said in a letter to CRD chairman Alastair Bryson.

The current project agreement makes the CRD solely responsible for all aspects of the project and lays out clear timelines that must be met, Polak said.

The agreement “defines the provincial funding contribution as being for the sole purpose [of] defraying the costs incurred by the CRD in building a WWTP (waste water treatment plant), an energy centre for sludge treatment and conveyance system upgrades as described in the CALWMP (core area liquid waste management plan),” Polak’s letter said.

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said it appears the province is “playing hardball” with municipalities wanting to go it alone. “Those who have this dream that 20 plants are cheaper than one and [that] using Space Age technology to make it disappear into the ether will work, can keep trotting these theories out, but the province’s position is firm: ‘You’ve got a deadline and you’ve got a limited amount of funding,’ ” Leonard said.

“At some point, reality is going to have to hit some people smack across the forehead.”

The federal and provincial agreements provide $501 million of the estimated $783-million cost, with the provincial share being $248 million.

But the CRD’s plan to build a regional plant at McLoughlin Point has been frustrated by Esquimalt’s refusal to rezone the site. Polak has refused to intervene and override Esquimalt council’s unanimous decision.

Several municipalities — including Victoria, Esquimalt, Colwood and View Royal — are exploring the possibility of building their own plants to meet provincial and federal regulations requiring treatment.

Polak said it’s up to the CRD to decide whether to continue pursuing the McLoughlin site but warned that changes to the approved plan could affect the existing funding agreement.

“Obviously, there will be public concern should a revised proposal include significant changes to the project agreement [such as an increase in the number of treatment plants] that increase its already formidable costs,” she said. “I want to underline that potential changes to the CALWMP should assume neither an increase to the province’s contribution nor an extension to the time frames that have already been established.”

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins agreed the letter appears to be saying provincial funding may not be available for individual municipal plants. But she said that doesn’t preclude municipalities working together under the CRD umbrella to undertake a “sub-regional” proposal.

Desjardins said discussions are underway for a “west-side group” that could include Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood, Langford, Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations and possibly Vic West.

“Certainly we want to, from the west side, work with CRD to do what’s best for our residents within CRD to go forward and get this done,” Desjardins said.

Polak also spelled out that any changes to the CRD’s approved plan would require essentially the same process the CRD had to follow for McLoughlin Point, including: reconvening the CALWMP advisory committee for advice, undertaking studies including but not limited to an environmental impact study and consultation with First Nations and the public.


6 Jul 2014
Times Colonist

In the capital region’s sewage disputes, Esquimalt’s mayor takes on a giant, aware of its every move

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins has won a hard-fought sewage battle for the township against the much-larger Capital Regional District, which represents 13 municipalities, including Esquimalt. At stake: the region’s proposed sewage treatment plant that would be built at McLoughlin Point. Esquimalt has said no, refusing to rezone the site and leaving the CRD to mull its options. But there’s more to this fight than what appears on the surface. Desjardins is Esquimalt’s CRD representative. She knows the directors’ every move and is privy to what goes on behind closed doors. To say the least, that puts her in an unusual position. Bill Cleverley takes an in-depth look. In many ways, it’s been painted as a David and Goliath story.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, in the role of David, has successfully defended her municipality from the Capital Regional District behemoth that wants to put a regional sewage treatment plant on the former oil tank farm at McLoughlin Point.

The battle — much of it fought behind closed doors as local politicians discussed the likes of legal opinions and site options — has raged for months.

Only in this fight, David knows every move the giant is going to make.

After all, Desjardins, Esquimalt’s CRD representative and a member of the core area liquid waste committee, sits in on every incamera session the CRD has held and so has been privy to every piece of strategic and legal advice all CRD directors get.

It is — to say the least — an unusual situation.

No one is suggesting that there’s a conflict of interest, and all parties say that Desjardins has every legal right to be there. But Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt uses the term “conflict of office” to describe the situation he politely says can be “problematic” when a dispute like this arises between a regional government and a member municipality.

“Essentially, director Desjardins is present for those meetings discussing legal issues formulating the CRD legal response to the zoning issue and other issues relating to [the] Seaterra [sewage treatment program]. And the rest of the CRD board, obviously, isn’t privy to the Township of Esquimalt’s legal discussions,” Isitt said in an interview.

Isitt notes that provincial legislation clearly states that the determination of when an elected official is in conflict is up to that elected official.

“The rationale for that is pretty clear and valuable. We wouldn’t want a majority of elected officials to be able to bar their colleagues — potentially dissident colleagues — from very crucial discussions,” Isitt said.

While the existing structure of regional government is “challenging” and occasionally puts directors in a “precarious position,” there is no conflict, Desjardins said. And, she said, she doesn’t share any information she receives in closed-door CRD sessions with anyone — not even her Esquimalt council colleagues.

“I absolutely cannot [share information], and that’s the challenge we all face when anything is being discussed at CRD that pertains to our municipality, whether it’s sewage or whether it’s development,” she said.

But the question remains: Can a person “unknow” what they know?

“It’s a most unusual situation where you would get information and then commit to not using it at your municipality,” said Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard, a former CRD board chairman and senior board member. Leonard wonders if CRD staff don’t filter some information from their briefings, knowing that Desjardins will be in the room.

“I think our legal briefings would be more fulsome if she were not there, I honestly do,” Leonard said. “There’s no instruction to do that. There’s been nothing said to do that, and I don’t know if I could ever prove that’s the case, but I just think it’s a natural instinct.”

While not a conflict of interest in a traditional sense, the situation highlights an “inherent structural defect” in having a regional government that is comprised of people who are “elected and who first and foremost owe their allegiance to their municipalities,” said Michael Prince, a Lansdowne professor of social policy at the University of Victoria.

“When the rubber hits the road or the sewage hits the whatever, there’s an inherent role conflict here,” Prince said.

“But this is role conflict — a built in structural conflict or contradiction — and when the province says, ‘Oh, we won’t get involved,’ this will fester.”

Both Leonard and Prince say it underscores the need for regional district reform. Prince said that might translate to direct election of regional directors and more authority ceded to regional districts for certain functions.

“What it means is regional would become more robust. Would it be at the expense of local authorities? Maybe in a few issues. But at this point, I think people are looking for regional transit solutions, regional sewage solutions, regional policing,” Prince said.

Leonard, who a decade ago was part of a community council that brought about municipal government reform through development of the Community Charter, said the second phase was always meant to be a reform of regional government, but the province let it slide.

“The biggest challenges in local government in the next 25 years would be best served by regional solutions: the environment, climate change, waste management, transportation, transit, emergency planning,” he said.

Local politicians would rather catch a virus than look at amalgamation, but Victoria Coun. Geoff Young believes the best argument against amalgamation is having an effective regional government.

“If you don’t have an effective regional government, then, indeed, there will be pressure for amalgamation.”

Leonard notes even the “slightest hint” of giving more authority to a regional district “leads to outcry, not from the citizens but actually from the municipalities.”

Still, he said, something has to be done.

“We’re close to dysfunctional,” Leonard said. “That means the taxpayers aren’t being well served. The citizens aren’t being well served in terms of democracy, and the environment is not being well served in terms of the continued discharge of sewage.”
- GVPL PressReader edition



Sewage treatment: Cost/benefits? (Dew-Jones)

Focus Magazine
July/August 2014
(scroll down website to locate letter)
Having spent 14 years of my life designing and overseeing the construction of sewage treatment plants in England, as well as Victoria’s, and working on the Okanagan’s (where the need for a sophisticated tertiary plant was obvious), I am continually amazed at the lack of balance in those advocating Victoria’s sewage needs treatment. Can we deduce with certainty from the interviews with Drs Garrett and Mavinic (Focus, June 2014) or anyone else that a secondary treatment plant will do any good? Incredibly, no, we cannot. It is a possibility, just as is being hit by an asteroid.

Instead it would certainly do harm. For at present the control of pathogens, which is the most important issue, is perfect. But a land-based plant needs chemicals and operators and things can and sometimes do go wrong. The plant itself carries health hazards as operators go about their work next to tanks filled with pathogens.

We don’t know the benefits will do any good, but can we reasonably presume that they will exceed the disbenefits from the pollution caused and energy used in the manufacture transportation and installation of the materials on the massive contract? No, of course, we can’t.

A cost/benefit study would compare the benefits of a treatment plant here with environmental benefits that would be achieved if the money were spent in other ways. The CRD’s proposed plant would look ridiculous.

Then we need to consider the relative impact on Georgia Strait from Victoria’s waste compared with the residential/industrial complexes of New Westminster-Vancouver and and Everett-Seattle-Tacoma.

After a lifetime working on projects you form judgements. Mine is that our impact is not worth a fleabite.

Ted Dew-Jones, P.Eng.


Fix old sewage pipes before building plant (Jewsbury)

JULY 3, 2014 

Re: “Sewage spill at Clover Point prompts alert,” June 28.

This just goes on and on and on, doesn’t it? It goes to show where the priorities should have been placed many years ago — not a billion-dollar non-existent sewage treatment plant but a much needed billion-dollar upgrade of the old pipes that started this whole mess, that of spillover during high rain and high tides during winter.

First things first. Fix the old pipes in the ground before even thinking that sewage treatment will fix our woes. At least we know that our sewage is not stinking up the place out at sea, all the while waiting for the Best Plan.

E.C. Jewsbury

Protest the protest (Platts)

Oak Bay News
Jul 1, 2014

Mayor Nils Jensen is raising the alarm that the average annual cost in Oak Bay for the sewage treatment plan could rise from $450 to around $1,000 per household.

But he has been our representative on the CRD Sewage Committee, along with Coun. John Herbert, and should take his share of the blame for the whole mess.

Also, he mentions the Washington State Governor’s criticism of our lack of sewage treatment.

Although complicated, the daily flows of water through the Strait of Juan de Fuca show that almost all water from our Victoria outfalls flows straight out into the Pacific.

The water from Puget Sound, where pollution now comes mainly from stormwater outflow (reported in the Seattle press as a problem), does potentially pollute our Victoria waters.

Could Mayor Jensen, study this and perhaps write a competing letter of protest to Washington State?

Dr. Michael J. Platts
Oak Bay

Obstructionism in Victoria (Randall)

Focus Magazine
July/August 2014
(scroll down website to locate letter)

Over the last 30 or so years I have participated in many protests against what I consider practices and policies that are seriously harmful—environmental destruction (arrested at Clayoquot Sound), fracking, pipelines, salmon farms, all forms of violence—against women, minorities, animals—war and dumping raw sewage into the ocean.

In most cases we have been pressuring our governments to change destructive, violent or harmful policies. This is grassroots democracy. Change comes excruciatingly slowly. Often we seem to be going backwards rather than forward. And yet we can’t give up, we must continue the struggle. Disappointment and periods of despair are par for the course.

However, two failures stand out for me that are particularly painful—election reform and sewage treatment—not only because success seemed within our grasp but because they were derailed by people who claimed to share our goals and who managed to persuade others—who truly supported the ideals we were trying to achieve—to oppose us.

Both of these campaigns started with small groups and individuals spending many hours over many years lobbying the governments and educating the public. Finally a miracle happened (or so it seemed) after all those years of hard work. The governments actually listened. In the case of election reform the BC government agreed to put it to a popular vote and in the case of sewage treatment the CRD agreed it had to be done and set about devising a plan.

In the first case—election reform—the people of BC told the government in no uncertain terms that the majority wanted to change to a system of proportional representation (PR). The government then appointed a citizens committee to study several different systems and choose the one they determined was the best choice for BC. Done! But someone decided that they knew better than the 100-strong randomly chosen citizens committee that had spent a whole year studying, discussing and deciding, and persuaded enough people that it was not the right system for us. What do we have now? The old unfair system. And where are all those who said they agreed we needed to change to PR, but just not that particular system. Do you ever hear of PR now? So much for making our system more democratic.

Now in Victoria we are in a raging battle over sewage treatment. Again after many years of grassroots work we now have governments agreeing we need sewage treatment, giving us a substantial portion of the funding, and deadlines (recognizing that it is long overdue).

Again, a small group of individuals, some of whom loudly protested that we don’t need any sewage treatment at all, are now saying that they agree we do need it, but that the CRD, after years of studies and plans, have a bad plan and they have a better plan—which is to go back to square one and start all over again, do more studies. They say they have all now become environmentalists and want only the top-of-the-line plan—and it will be cheaper than the bad plan! Well, who wouldn’t want that? Continuing to dump raw sewage into the ocean for another 5, 10, 20 years is apparently not a problem for them.

Some may think this is democracy. Not me! What I see is obstructionism. When change is in the making that is good for the planet and/or for a better fairer system of election, it is wrong to to pass up the opportunity.

We have many battles to fight if we are going to hand over this planet to our grandchildren in any reasonable, liveable condition. Save your energy to fight against destruction and violence, not to thwart efforts to change things for the better.

Jean B. Randall

Stick to current sewage plan (Stephens)

Saanich News                           
Jul 3, 2014

I don’t want to see the Seaterra program bite the dust. There are a lot of crappy ideas flying back and forth, and I think it would be wise for all of us (not least the councillors of the region’s municipalities), to give our heads a shake.

First of all, thank you to Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard for staying sceptical on the distributed sewage model. At first glance, each of the municipalities having its own smaller sewage treatment plant is not at all different from each of us (for example), having our own, hypothetical smaller hospitals localized in each of the municipalities, each only available to meet the needs of the people who live in that area. It’s a fun idea, but when you realize that each of those separate hospitals needs to have its own emergency room, delivery room, complete surgical equipment, MRI machine, CAT scan machine, etc., the thought quickly goes south.

Like this, each prospective little treatment plant would need to be fully equipped with all the implications for sewage treatment; each doing exactly the same job on a smaller scale. This doesn’t make sense, and surely is not the most cost-effective course to take.

Why not stick with Seaterra’s original plan, having two larger, centralized plants doing treatment, merely on a larger volume of waste?

And to all of us living in the Capital Regional District who flush the toilet after using it: we pump 82 million litres of untreated sewage into the Juan de Fuca Strait every day. We are the only major city in Canada that doesn’t have treated sewage. The issue is not just poo: there is the huge environmental impact of heavy metals and pharmaceuticals, the remnants of drugs we take. Think about it: our waste doesn’t vaporize into thin air after we flush, instead it goes into the sea. All 360,000 of us have a responsibility to get sewage treatment in place as soon as possible. Let’s get behind Seaterra’s current plan and stop messing around.

Beverly Stephens,