November 12, 2014

Mayoral candidates for View Royal - sewage concern included
- Finance, sewage treatment top priorities (for Colwood)
View Royal Votes: Sewage treatment, experience level debating points for mayor hopefuls
New mayor to steer major changes (View Royal)
Election 2014: At Issue -- Piping up on sewage in Colwood

Sewage barely mentioned at forum (Benn)
Letter contains incorrect information (Maler)
Sewage budget needs adjustment (Sketchley)
Sewage project critical to Oak Bay (Wolfe)



Mayoral candidates for View Royal - sewage concern included

Times-Colonist 9 November 2014


Finance, sewage treatment top priorities (Colwood)

Amy Smart
Times Colonist
4 November 2014

Mayor Carol Hamilton identified cutting costs as one of her top priorities, two months after she took office. With multiple candidates waving the same flag three years later, it seems improving the financial health of a municipality isn’t an easy fix.

This election, topics such as sewage treatment and governance structures are also competing for attention.

Among the challenges is the Capital City Centre development site at Colwood Corners. The mixed-use project was expected to break ground in early 2012 and be completed by 2015. Today, it remains little more than a hole in the ground, thanks to the downfall of developer League Assets, which has filed for court-approved restructuring and is liquidating its assets. Hamilton said she is cautiously optimistic about developer Onni taking over the site and resuming construction, even if it won’t be on the scale promised by League. The city stands to gain $719,000 owed in taxes from the site, in the deal Onni has struck with League.

Several candidates say they are troubled by Colwood’s finances and promise to reduce debt and bring taxes in line with the services residents receive.

Cautious optimism also surrounds the prospect of a regional sewage-treatment plant. The inaugural meeting Oct. 23 of the Westside Wastewater and Resource Recovery Select Committee has given some hope for a sewage-treatment option that doesn’t involve Esquimalt’s McLoughlin Point, a location Esquimalt representatives oppose. It also suggests a central role for Colwood, with Hamilton as co-chair. Although representatives may change after the election, the committee plans to put together a regional wastewater-treatment plan for Colwood, Esquimalt, View Royal, Langford and the Songhees Nation.

A few candidates want governance reform. Robin Stanbridge is talking about sweeping change — direct democracy conducted digitally — while it’s all about amalgamation for Natalia Lebedynsky. Colwood was one of the first municipalities to say it would include a non-binding amalgamation question on the ballot, but council reversed its decision when only three volunteers came forward for a citizens’ committee to work on the question.
View Royal Votes: Sewage treatment, experience level debating points for mayor hopefuls

Arnold Lim 
Goldstream News Gazette
Nov 6, 2014

A dozen years after Graham Hill first slipped on the chains of office as mayor, View Royal is guaranteed to have a new political leader following the Nov. 15 municipal election.

Long-time councillor David Screech is facing off against Brian Burchill, a long-time View Royal resident known most recently for his work with sewage treatment protest group ARESST, for the right to succeed the retiring four-term mayor.

“With Graham deciding to retire, I saw an opportunity to step up,” Screech said. “I had been thinking of it prior to that, but with him deciding he was ready to retire that’s essentially what made my decision.”

Years on council have given him the background and experience to make the move, he said. “I worked closely with Graham, so I’ve had an opportunity to learn a great deal from him over the years as well.”

Retired entrepreneur and traffic accident analyst Burchill said he respects Screech’s time on council and admits he doesn’t have any himself. However, council experience shouldn’t be the only factor, he said, especially given the town’s relatively recent political past.

“Screech has that (experience) and congratulations to him for all that, but I would counter that Mayor Hill (was elected in 2002) without any experience on council either,” Burchill said. “That shouldn’t be an issue. I’m a quick learner and councillors will bring me up to speed quickly.”

When it comes to the more pressing issues in the township, both men agreed on amalgamation and the need for improved communication with residents. They differed in their approach to an issue they both conceded was one of the biggest issues across the region.

“Sewage is obviously the number one issue for the whole region at the moment,” Screech said.

“That one, for me, is important and it’s clear we have to move ahead. We have been mandated by both the provincial and federal governments to do so. We have to find a way with our partners to make it work. I think for us it is essential we are part of a larger group, which is why we formed a sub-committee with Esquimalt, Langford, Colwood, View Royal and Songhees. It’s essential that it can be done for the same cost or less as the original plan (and if so), that will be an excellent solution.”

Burchill is chair of the Association for Responsible and Environmentally Sustainable Sewage Treatment (ARREST), a society aimed at stopping government from mandating unnecessary, costly or environmentally harmful systems. He has a completely different take on what should, or more importantly shouldn’t, be done.

“It’s going to be hard to come up with a system better than what we have now,” h said, pointing to the preliminary screening and ocean discharge 1.5 kilometres off shore.

“I want to counter political rhetoric and bring the science and evidence forward and properly satisfy the new federal regulations. That has to be thoroughly explored and get the public relations spin and politics out of it and the facts and science into the discussion.”

According to scientists and engineers, Burchill said, there is no evidence of anyone getting sick from the current practices and no evidence of fish dying. Taking the time to find the right system at the right time, if at all, is the prudent choice rather than rushing to implement something that might not provide the best solution, he added.

Burchill hopes to further open up lines of communication with residents if he is elected.

“I am going to be retired. I have time. I can dedicate the required amount of time to represent the views of the citizens of View Royal,” he said. “I want to understand their priorities and concerns.”

Screech was equally gracious in addressing the public.

“I would be very honoured to be the mayor,” he said. “In terms of what I would bring, I bring stability, experience and (will) continue the good work of Graham and the past council.”

Third man in

• As he appears on all the mayoral ballots in the Capital Region, Saanich resident David Shebib is running for the top job in View Royal and 12 other jurisdictions. While the logistics of that seem hard to figure, his campaign manager, Victoria right-to-sleep activist David Arthur Johnston, insists Shebib is maintaining a busy campaign schedule around the region.


New mayor to steer major changes (View Royal)

Times Colonist
9 November 2014

Residents in the gateway community of View Royal are preparing for its most exciting election in years, now that Mayor Graham Hill is stepping down.

Hill won more than twice the votes of both his competitors combined in the last election and was acclaimed in the previous two.

The biggest issues facing the next council will centre on the community’s economic well-being, sewage treatment and infrastructure, he said.

View Royal, which lies between Victoria’s urban core and the growing West Shore municipalities, is a different community to what it was in 2002.

Since then, councils have faced challenges ranging from developing transportation and regional-growth strategies to stalled sewage-treatment plans and a lawsuit from the developer of the controversial Thetis Cove project.

The Eagle Creek development underway promises to continue changing the face of the town, adding an anticipated $700,000 in annual municipal revenues once complete.

But it hinges on ensuring the project continues on course and doesn’t conflict with existing ideas about the town’s character. Likewise, some candidates pointed to managing the town’s casino revenue as a priority.

Sewage treatment continues to be a challenge. View Royal is hedging its bets by participating in the newly formed Westside Wastewater and Resource Recovery Select Committee.

And one of the first things on the new council’s agenda will be ensuring the public-safety building, which replaces the aging fire hall, opens on time.

In the race for Hill’s seat are incumbent councillor David Screech, as well as semi-retiree Brian Burchill and David Shebib, who is running in all 13 municipalities.

While Screech has built a platform based on his experience, Burchill is banking on voters caring most about sewage — he argues that panic to replace the current system is unfounded.

All three other incumbents are hoping to retain their seats against newcomers Wesley Kennedy, Aaron Weisberger and Mark Brennan, the former chief administrative officer for Oak Bay.
Election 2014: At Issue -- Piping up on sewage in Colwood

Arnold Lim
Goldstream News Gazette
Nov 11, 2014

For another election, Colwood residents head to the polls with sewage on their minds.

Questions surrounding the potential for a new sewage management facility continue to flow through the minds of residents with the Nov. 15 municipal election drawing closer. Just like it had been the election before and the one before that, sewage is front and centre and voters are piping up.

“If more people were to go on sewage and if the cost was spread out into the future, maybe it would be viable economically for the average person in Colwood. Right now I don’t think it is,” said 23-year Colwood resident Laurie McGuire. “It is too expensive and I don’t think it is necessary, simple as that.”

McGuire’s concerns stem from costs and how they would be taxed to the residents of Colwood, who would pay for it, especially considering such a small percentage – approximately 25 per cent – are currently hooked up to the sewer system. How long the cost would be spread out for is also a concern for McGuire, especially considering she just installed a new septic tank to replace her old one and doesn’t see herself switching to sewer anytime soon.

“The reason we chose to redo the septic instead of hooking up to sewer was because it was about half the cost – basic economics,” she said.

“I think I would be angry over (a tax increase to pay for a new sewage facility) considering what we just went through putting in a new septic system.”

Walking her two children home after school, Colwood homeowner Laura Deweerd said she could support a new sewage management system for the city, but would like to know more about any potential facilities and why they are needed before she makes her own decision.

“I would like to see some scientific information. The assumption would be ‘yes’ (we need one), but I’m not sure that is a valid assumption, because I have heard opposing views,” she said.

“Even from an environmental perspective, there are options with that and with the vast amount of money it would take, (what) would be more effective to help the environment? In my opinion, I would just need a bit more information and data to back it up and make an informed decision.”

With Colwood joining Langford, the Songhees Nation, Esquimalt and View Royal to form a westside subcommittee to discuss a new framework for evaluating treatment options with Capital Regional District staff, even more questions have arisen for Colwood voters.

After looking at options where the muni-cipality could potentially build a facility on its own, the new subcommittee may change the landscape. And with the election looming, any discussions won’t be resolved in time for voters to use that information to determine their vote.

“We bought a home with the convenience of being on sewer in mind, but that being said, we also know we have to be a little bit conscious of some of the upcoming issues because we wanted to have that convenience,” Deweerd said.

“It is our responsibility to get a bit more educated and find out what our options are moving forward.”

A Colwood resident for all of her 37 years, she plans to research where the current mayor and councillors stand before deciding who she will be voting for. Where sewer considerations factored into the decision on her home purchase, so they will when she casts her ballot.

Jack Smith, 74, has lived in the same home, on septic, more than 40 years. He simply isn’t interested in connecting to sewer if eligible, despite the added convenience, because of the cost involved – a huge factor given his age, he said. The potential for higher taxes to pay for a sewage management facility is also a concern, despite his belief that such a facility is a necessity.

“There should be some sort of sewage management. I think we are overdue to have sewage in Colwood and it’s building up pretty big,” he said.

For more information on Colwood’s sewer plans, visit

Sewage barely mentioned at forum (Benn)

NOVEMBER 5, 2014

Re: “New-candidates-only town halls spur tension,” Nov. 4.

It doesn’t surprise me that new candidates for Saanich council want their own forum, as the all-candidates’ meeting I attended was orchestrated by the incumbents so that the biggest issue of all, sewage, was barely given a mention. It’s hardly surprising they want to suppress the issue, considering the fiasco so far and the millions of dollars wasted.

Of the set questions from the moderator, the first one was on sewage. The question was whether the wastewater project was good for the environment. Only a one word answer, yes or no, was permitted. For all the other questions that evening, each candidate stood and had one minute to talk.

When it came to input from the audience, one man stepped up to the microphone way before anyone else. His question was about sewage. At last, I thought, we’re going to have a discussion on the issue. But no. The moderator asked him if he’d like his question answered by all the candidates. He waffled a bit and then amazingly picked out just one specific candidate, an incumbent, to talk for a minute about sewage.

There was much discussion about how to deal with difficult neighbours and the traffic problem on Claremont Hill, but by far the most important issue to everybody in the room was barely given a mention.

Definitely time for change.

Christine Benn

Letter contains incorrect information (Maler)

Oak Bay News
Nov 11, 2014

I am discouraged by the misleading and incorrect information sent to Oak Bay News in a letter by Mr. Jack Hull and published on Oct. 31.

The statement that it is OK to discharge secondary effluent into the Strait of Juan de Fuca is incorrect, because it is NOT OK to pump effluent containing multi-drug resistant bacteria (Superbugs), micro-plastics and hundreds of soluble chemicals into the ocean, because the point of building sewage treatment plants is to remove contaminants from the ocean and secondary treatment does NOT do that, only tertiary treatment followed by Advanced Oxidation (UV+peroxide) treatment will and this is routinely done in tertiary treatment plants such as Dockside Green.

Dockside Green type of plant can be scaled up and there is nothing incompatible with our low density neighbourhoods and Sechelt is a perfect and progressive example of tertiary treatment plant, but it needs sludge disposal system (like all sewage treatment plants do) such as gasification.

There is nothing latest in the now defunct CRD secondary treatment system, it is 50 year old technology that needs to be put to rest along with the CRD plan. Even the lowest cost option statement is not credible, such study was never done, CRD always refused to do an independent study. The statement that tertiary, decentralized system will cost more is likewise not credible because such independent cost study has not been done.

If the CRD initiatives are as bad as its now defunct sewage treatment plan, any municipality that is asked to host it SHOULD be able to veto it.

It is also misleading to continually bring the fear of lost funding into the equation. Letter from the government shows that the funding is there, the new plans of course need to be approved.

The following two paragraphs on academic and professional qualifications speak volumes on the type of attitude we have seen for years at the CRD, only consultants and engineers have any credibility, the public, no matter how well informed, have none. Therefore, we should not give any credibility to those that can explore the internet and can read and think for themselves.

This is exactly the type of thinking that got us into the mess we are in right now and this cost $60 million  with nothing to show for it. And if nothing changes at the leadership level, Mr. Hull and experts like him will continue to waste taxpayers money. It is obvious that we need new thinking at the municipal as well as at the CRD levels.

Thomas Maler, Ph.D.
Sewage budget needs adjustment (Sketchley)

Oak Bay News
Nov 3, 2014

Re: "Add truth to sewage treatment" (

Jack Hull adds useful information to the sewage debate, in his Oct. 31 letter, but misses important factors.

The claim that delay increases cost does not make financial sense. Except for paying the ongoing bureaucracy, delayed expenditures are paid in future funds – adjusting costs and savings to a common year is standard practice for economic calculations. (That is necessary to reflect the impact of inflation and of the money that can be earned by investing if it is not spent today.)

Budgets should be adjusted for changes which may include maturing technology, construction market conditions, and cost increases from inflation.

Capital cost normalized to population is not a proper comparison, unless adjusted for economies of scale. Ancillary costs such as piping and dealing with sludge must be included. So should value of land, in this area perhaps one of the large rock outcrops is suitable but other factors must be costed for a rational decisions. Even fancy exteriors, like the one in Blaine, WA.

A better question about the many local plants already in operation in the broad region around here is how proven they are, it may be far too early to tell.

Of course, sound design and proper operational management are essential.

For the Blue Bridge in Victoria, two things stand out – premature use of estimates (which proceed in stages during which more detail is known thus fewer risks remain) and the grandiose design forced by politicians.

Hull does not address the question of whether secondary treatment is needed at all. He may consider that a separate subject, especially involving the federal government’s questioned regulations and people pandering to hypocritical lawyers from Seattle.

And while Hull recommends a “qualified” municipal planner, few are truly qualified. They tend to be bureaucrats of the same ideological bias as the mayor.

That they are annointed by politicians does not make them qualified.

Saanich, for example, has produced verbose poorly written reports that contradict themselves.

The CRD has a poor record – look at the ongoing delays fixing the sewage system in Ganges on Saltspring Island.

Keith Sketchley
Sewage project critical to Oak Bay (Wolfe)

Oak Bay News
Nov 10, 2014

A critical issue in Oak Bay’s Nov. 15 municipal election is the Capital Regional District’s controversial and stalled sewage treatment project.  While I commend all members of council for their service and all candidates for their willingness to serve, the fact that a majority of them do not address this issue on their Facebook page or websites makes me wonder if they think not saying anything will make the issue go away.

To their credit, the four candidates who speak to the issue on their sites are Hazel Braithwaite, Tom Croft, Sigurd Johannesen and Kevin Murdoch.

Braithwaite is “of the opinion that there is not enough scientific justification to move ahead with this project.”  Croft is “satisfied that the current regional plan is the best alternative…”  Johannesen is of like mind and says “It is time we moved on… to meet [federal and provincial] deadlines…”  Murdoch also supports “a centralized treatment facility”, but only “if [it is decided] we are going to move forward.”

He maintains “our representatives at the CRD have failed to advocate effectively with the federal and provincial governments to seek specific regulation for our specific receiving environment… It may still be possible to seek some relief from the regulations, but is now unlikely since it wasn’t dealt with early.”

In my view all reasonable efforts should be made to seek such relief.  Not only is close to $1 billion on the line, but the current proposed solution will produce a variety of land and air problems and pollutants in exchange for questionable marine benefits.

Yes, we need to address marine contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, but I’m one of those who thinks human waste is less of a problem given the cleansing power of “our specific receiving environment.”  As Murdoch points out, with relatively minor upgrades “Our current system… would actually meet special exemption standards set in the U.S. and much of Europe for similar receiving environments.”

Let’s not let non-involvement or exhaustion or undue fear of deadlines saddle us with an inappropriate and unnecessarily expensive “solution” that will increase greenhouses gas emissions and contribute to global climate change.  Let’s get it right.  Let’s elect savvy, pro-active councillors dedicated to revisiting this issue with the Capital Regional District and engaging the federal and provincial governments for specific regulation for our specific receiving environment - just as is permitted by a number of other jurisdictions around the world.

Patrick Wolfe
Oak Bay