September 14, 2014

CRD SEWAGE NEWS  14 September 
Audio-Visual News:
-  Desjardins on CFAX 8 Sept

News stories:

Esquimalt council to debate going it alone on sewage treatment 
CRD’s terms of reference for review of wastewater options ‘designed to fail’
Municipalities to steer next steps in sewage treatment plan
EDITORIAL: The progression of the sewage debate

Sewage plan wouldn’t fix stormwater deficiencies (Sirk)



Audio-Visual News:

Desjardins on CFAX 8 Sept

Mayor of Esquimalt Barb Desjardins was on CFAX 1070 this morning with Al Ferraby to give an update on Esquimalt's position on the sewage treatment project and the Mon night council meeting at 7pm:

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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:

Esquimalt council to debate going it alone on sewage treatment 

8 September 2014

Esquimalt's mayor thinks her municipality needs to go the same route as Victoria and put together a business case for going-it-alone on sewage treatment.

Mayor Barb Desjardins will present a motion to council tonight as they try to find a way forward, after the regional plan stalled.

She says Sooke and the peninsula municipalities do their own sewage treatment and that's a model they want to investigate. There have also been talks between Esquimalt and Westshore communities about what they could do together.

The Capital Region's plan for a central sewage treatment plant stalled earlier this year when Esquimalt refused to rezone McLoughlin Point to allow a treatment plant.

The City of Victoria recently decided to study its options for going-it-alone, at a cost of about $200-thousand dollars.


CRD’s terms of reference for independent review of wastewater options are ‘designed to fail’, says citizen group

John Farquharson
Open Victoria blog
September 8, 2014

A few months ago, several thousand CRD residents signed a petition calling for a third party review of the wastewater treatment project. Since then, a small group of interested citizens have been developing sample terms of reference (TOR) for an independent inquiry. It’s now on its fifth draft.

Three members of this group would easily qualify as experts in drafting TOR for a successful independent inquiry. Two bring a distinguished legal background to the table; the other, broad experience in the BC public service. All three have extensive knowledge of the project.

Last week the CRD released its TOR for an independent study on options for wastewater treatment for the Core Area of the CRD. In comparison to the citizen group’s draft, the CRD document is clearly designed for failure, along with a waste of $400,000 of taxpayers’ money and the loss of another 10 months.

A successful independent inquiry is one where the overwhelming majority of stakeholders accept its findings or recommendations. Many may not like the findings. Many could be very disappointed. But, they accept them. And it’s this widespread acceptance that provides the foundation for moving forward on whatever the issue is.

In the recipe for success, three criteria are particularly important.

First, there’s broad consensus amongst the stakeholders on the TOR. A September 3rd letter to the CRD Chair from five key stakeholders — Esquimalt, Langford, View Royal, the Songhees Nation and Colwood — suggests there’s still a long way to go for the CRD to meet this condition. In particular, the five identified six “..additional improvements that are necessary to facilitate a successful solution that is regionally acceptable”.

The second criterion is quality information. Its importance was noted by City of Victoria (CoV) Assistant Director of Engineering and Public Works, John Sturdy, in his executive summary regarding CoV’s own proposed technical study of treatment options: “Based on the history of this issue in the community and varying levels of understanding about sewage treatment and the current options being considered, a high level of quality information is needed to bring the community along with the City in all steps of the process”.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the CRD’s TOR that provides for the development of information that would include proven facts and the judgement of an independent inquirer regarding the veracity of relevant expert opinions. It’s only this quality of information that would allow for a sound exploration and evaluation of the feasibility of various options called for in Phase One of the CRD study.

The third criterion is that the credibility of the independent inquirer be unassailable. We probably all have a favourite example of a contentious stalemate being resolved, to a large degree, simply because of the unquestionable integrity of the inquirer. It’s this type of individual that needs to lead the CRD options study.

We are now very close to meeting the widely shared objective of a third party independent review. And CRD Directors are very close to an election. It would be unconscionable if the incumbents leave an options study that will serve only to sustain or even deepen the current discord, especially for those who will sit on the CRD Board starting in January.

The CRD’s TOR document is scheduled for discussion at 9:30 on September 10th. Hopefully CRD Directors will tell staff to go back to the drawing board and design an options study TOR that will yield widely accepted recommendations and provide the foundation for moving forward on wastewater treatment.
Municipalities to steer next steps in sewage treatment plan

SEPTEMBER 10, 2014

Municipalities will steer the process to come up with options — including locations for sewage treatment plants — now that the Capital Regional District’s plan to build a plant at Esquimalt’s McLoughlin Point has collapsed.

CRD directors put off consideration of staff recommendations to hire a manager to investigate options for sewage treatment after West Shore mayors and Songhees First Nations Chief Ron Sam complained the process was flawed and they didn’t have enough input.

The independent manager would have had no past affiliation with the current Seaterra program, the peer-review team or any other wastewater treatment study undertaken by the CRD. The manager would have a $400,000 budget to conduct an options study, according to a draft terms of reference. Staff were recommending the process be overseen by a fairness and transparency adviser.

According to a CRD staff report, the study would determine whether a sub-regional option can be found that meets regulatory requirements, falls within the approved funding of $788 million and can be completed within the established timelines.

But West Shore mayors have complained that the CRD has lost the public’s confidence and that new options for sewage treatment should come from the municipalities involved, operating under the umbrella of the CRD.

“I don’t think we should be trying to look for a terms of reference or some fairness adviser to try to tell the municipalities how to carry out public processes,” said Victoria Coun. Geoff Young, chairman of the CRD sewage committee.

Members of the committee postponed consideration of the options evaluation in order to give municipalities time to consult with CRD staff to come up with revised terms of reference for the process.

Under guiding principles suggested by Young and agreed to by CRD directors, municipalities would have authority over zoning for treatment plants and be responsible for designating sites within their boundaries.

Municipalities would also be responsible for determining the public process required for obtaining public approval for any sites they hosted.

“We have to be clear, the proposals that are made have got to satisfy the people who are offering us grants,” Young said.
EDITORIAL: The progression of the sewage debate

Victoria News
Sep 12, 2014
While many Greater Victoria residents questioned giving control for sewage treatment to the Capital Regional District, it seemed for a while that the CRD was proceeding in a logical, if challenging direction to develop a plan linking the partners in the project.

But over time, as the planning costs mounted and the uncertainty and fragility of locating the main treatment plant in Esquimalt became apparent, that public trust quickly fell apart. To many it seemed more and more that the CRD was flying by the seat of its pants.

It comes as no surprise to us, then, that municipal politicians who sit at the CRD board table, and those who don’t, have already started looking at alternatives, such as doing studies on how their jurisdictions can meet provincial and federal government treatment requirements. Those alternatives also include teaming up with neighbouring municipalities.

Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins indicated this week that some form of “West side” partnership might be more palatable to her residents than the previous mega-plant idea rejected for McLoughlin Point. Such a plan could include View Royal, Colwood and Langford with Esquimalt, with the flows from that section of the region being treated at one plant or multiple smaller plants, given that Colwood has already started down its own road on treatment.

Is the fact municipalities are scrambling to find alternatives a case that would have been avoided in a more amalgamated region? Perhaps. But having that discussion is rather pointless, since sewage treatment has to get done first.

Rather than laying blame for the regional project falling apart – the lack of a firm commitment for a main site was the largest of various troubling aspects of the project – we prefer to look at the current state of discussions as breathing fresh air into a process that had stagnated.

The very real prospect facing taxpayers, however, is that funding from upper levels of government may disappear before smaller projects are decided upon. While it may be gratifying for residents to have more independence on such matters, that autonomy does not come without a cost.


Sewage plan wouldn’t fix stormwater deficiencies (Sirk)

SEPTEMBER 14, 2014

The Capital Regional District’s plan to deal with sewage is flawed. One major problem is that the stormwater system will not get fixed.

The discharge of sewage into Cadboro Bay on Sept. 2 was the result of a major rainstorm that drenched southern Vancouver Island and overwhelmed the stormwater system. There were reports of manhole covers being blown off and water pouring out onto the roadways.

It is a fine example of one of the major flaws in the proposed CRD sewage plan — after three-quarters of a billion dollars, we will still not be able to confidently and safely swim any time we want at any of our beaches in Victoria and Saanich. The proposed CRD plan does not include plans to fix the existing deficiencies in the system that allow sewage and stormwater to mix and end up on our beaches.

If there’s ever been a good reason to heave out the CRD’s plan, this is a fundamental one. I will not be able to take my children or grandchildren swimming off Cadboro Bay or Willows beaches after the project is finished. Even nowadays, our beautiful beaches are nearly devoid of swimmers due to the fear that the water is not clean. And rightfully so, because it isn’t.

Are we the fools for paying the bills and not questioning the final product or is the CRD choosing to be foolish with our money?

George Sirk