February 8, 2015

Guernsey: "Sewage Treatment 'Not Needed'"
Victoria's Secret: Dumping Raw Sewage Like It's 1915
Westside treatment plans creep forward
CRD Sewage videos and presentation pdfs
Editorial: Move ahead on sewage plans
- Sewage funding should not be put at risk (Kaye)
- Making public comments public vital to sewage planning process (Regier)
Guernsey: "Sewage Treatment 'Not Needed'"

Island FM (Guernsey)
30 January 2015

Some of our deputies have defended the way Guernsey deals with its sewage saying it has been proven to be environmentally friendly.

Yesterday the States decided not to adopt a full sewage treatment plant, but instead agreed to invest in seven new outfall pipes to dilute the effluent washed out to sea.

Deputy Al Brouard was one of those who has been convinced that it is the best and most cost effective thing to do.

Deputy Mike Hadley also said there is evidence to prove how low the level of bacteria is in our water.



The eastside-westside split

Focus Magazine

Will breaking into two groups create a consensus solution on sewage treatment? Or new unresolvable problems?

Last August Saanich councillor and CRD Director Vic Derman presented a motion calling for the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee, otherwise known as “the sewage committee,” to shift its focus away from a “one size fits all” approach. He advocated a best practices sounding of “individualized” solutions to sewage treatment.

The motion failed to pass. The sewage committee remained wedded to the plan to put a single treatment plant at McLoughlin Point.

Since then, however, the CRD’s failure to get the necessary zoning for McLoughlin—along with local elections in Greater Victoria— appear to have altered both the balance of votes at the sewage committee and the will to consider alternatives to the original plan.

The first concrete step in that direction took place on January 7, when the sewage committee passed a revised version of Derman’s earlier motion with only one dissenting vote out of 15.

The key difference? Derman called for the CRD to redirect its overall objective from dealing only with the regulatory requirements for wastewater management and target it instead on the goal of achieving a sustainable system that deals with climate change issues. Such a system would require tertiary treatment, eliminate all toxins in the biosolids, produce and utilize large volumes of gas from the biosolid treatment process, and recover and use the purified water as well. “How do we ensure the potentially massive infrastructure project maximizes our response to climate change?” Derman asked in the remarks that accompanied his motion. “How do we ensure that it maximizes resource recovery, and in the process of doing these things, how do we ensure that it maximizes environmental benefit and value for monies spent?”

The passing of Derman’s motion was a considerable shift in the political stance of the sewage committee, charged as they are with finding a way out of the stalemate created by Esquimalt’s rejection of the necessary zoning for McLoughlin Point.

Another positive step was the CRD’s acceptance of a new public engagement process, this one to be driven at the municipal level. This resulted in two coalitions being formed among the seven municipalities covered by the CRD plan. The first, now calling itself Westside Solutions, encompasses Langford, View Royal, Colwood and Esquimalt. The other, called the Eastside Select Committee, comprises Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay.

These groups are charged with public education and engagement and recommending to the CRD potential solutions that demonstrate a political consensus and public support.

So far so good. On the other hand, however, what are the odds that a proposal can be reached that meets not only the regulatory requirements for regional sewage treatment, but also Derman’s climate change criteria, and satisfies the development needs and goals of all seven municipalities for the next 50 years—the projected lifespan of the new system?

Asked about this challenge, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps admits it won’t be easy. “It’s going to take a lot of work and I’m going to have to tell people who want me to help them with this, or help them with that, that sewage treatment is the main focus of this year in office. It just has to be that, and it should be for all of us.”

The potential stumbling blocks on this road are still serious. They include closing the current 3-6 month gap in the progress of the Westside and Eastside groups’ engagement process due to the latter’s delay in getting started. After that, solving the ongoing dispute over the cost/benefit discrepancy between the single plant solution proposed by the CRD and the distributed plant model proposed by opponents of the CRD plan needs solving, along with identifying potential sites throughout the region for one or more treatment facilities, depending on the preferred treatment method.

As well, it will need to be determined if a single, region-wide system solution is possible, or if multiple solutions are necessary. If a single solution arises from the public engagement process, how can the twin engagement processes now underway be merged? And last but not least, a determination of which governing body has the responsibility and authority to implement and operate the preferred plan—the CRD or the affected municipalities—will need to be made.

LAND ECONOMIST CHRIS CORPS is very familiar with the history of the sewage treatment project in Victoria, having analyzed the original $1.2 billion CRD proposal—The Path Forward—on behalf of the Gordon Campbell government back in 2007. Both then and now, he has maintained that the divisions that have plagued the project from the outset result mainly from using old approaches and technology that do the minimum to meet regulations, but now fall far short of what is possible both financially and environmentally. Secondly, he points to problems created by provincial statutes, which he says could conflict with one another.

On the first issue, he cites the fact that while the CRD received nearly 30 responses to its 2006 call for proposals on which technology to use, ultimately it ignored all of them. He notes that Derman tried to fix this and insist that staff comply with a sewage committee directive to include innovation, but that CRD staffer Tony Brcic refused. Instead, the CRD opted for what then-CAO Kelly Daniels called “the big pipe” solution, a technology for which then-CRD engineer Dwayne Kalynchuk was hired for his expertise.

On the second issue, Corps says that he asked two former BC Deputy Ministers of the Environment to confirm the CRD’s authority under the Environmental Management Act. They confirmed the Act specifies that the CRD—or any other regional district in the province—only has authority to plan waste management, and to approve variations. Implementation is not stipulated as their responsibility, which therefore rests at the municipal level. “Which makes sense,” says Corps, “because all of the other statutory authorities [involved] are administered at the municipal level as well.”

“If the municipalities decide to have someone else [implement] the plan for them, that’s their decision,” Corps says. “Through to 2010 the CRD was attempting to force municipalities to sign up with the CRD, allowing it to take control,” he says, a strategy that was reported to include some strong-arming of the municipalities, including threats to cut individual municipalities out of the shared funding agreement if they didn’t agree to assign their authority to the CRD. As proof Corps cites media articles quoting West Shore mayors being pressed to sign by a given date or be excluded. “The mayors were not happy, they took it as a pressure tactic that was completely inappropriate,” he says. “The situation was compounded by the Province pushing the communities back to CRD, which became an intolerable pressure for some. The Province did not ease the communities’ problem, which was created by provincial statute in the first place.”

But assigning implementation authority does not and cannot remove the municipalities’ responsibility in other key areas affecting the project, including zoning, which the CRD learned to its peril in Esquimalt. There are a number of other relevant regulations under other provincial legislation that are solely under municipal jurisdiction as well.

Of course, having only one body to deal with suits the provincial government just fine, Corps notes, especially considering the number of councils involved here. But on the ground, the overlap and contradictory nature of many regulatory requirements remain thorny issues our local governments will have to work through, whether or not they agree on who should build and run the system.

Also needing resolution is the discrepancy between what the CRD says a distributed secondary treatment system would cost and the much lower price critics like Corps have suggested a distributed tertiary system would cost. Clarifying that issue received a setback when the City of Victoria hired engineering consultant firm Kerr Wood Leidal (KWL) last October to provide options for a go-it-alone treatment plan. It was KWL that produced the 2009 report that estimated a distributed secondary treatment model would be much more expensive than a central treatment plant. The CRD has cited that study ever since, even though it provided only secondary level treatment and therefore would have required nine costly new marine outfalls and abandonment of the two existing outfalls. Corps and others have offered withering criticisms of the report’s methodology and assumptions.

But Helps says the City will most likely exit the current KWL contract. She also notes that the City’s Director of Engineering and Public Works Dwayne Kalynchuk, who oversaw the CRD’s original KWL study when he was at the CRD, “will have little to say in the subregional evaluation because it’s been taken out of the hands of Victoria staff and put into the hands of the Eastside Select Committee.”

“It [the KWL hire in October] was a staff decision,” Helps explains. “I don’t think our city manager was aware of the hand KWL had in the original CRD proposal,” adding she also believes allowing it to proceed would violate the CRD policy of not hiring people who have been involved in an earlier stage of the same project. “We need to consider hiring the same consultant as the Westside group instead of having Victoria dragging its own consultant to the table,” she adds.

ANOTHER CHALLENGE ENROUTE TO SOLVING sewage treatment is that posed by existing infrastructure which does not respect municipal boundaries—specifically three major trunk sewer lines. As well, the percentage of the total volume of sewage received by those pipes from each municipality varies widely. This makes the political split into Westside and Eastside groups problematic. The Northwest Trunk line, for example, starts out in the Burnside-Wilkinson Road area of Saanich but crosses into Victoria West and continues through Esquimalt en route to Macaulay Point, where it meets the trunk line which serves all the Westshore communities. The volume carried by the northwest line and the west line together represents 47 percent of the total for the region. But 59 percent of the sewage volume being attributed to the Westside group originates in Saanich (45 percent) and Victoria West (14 percent), neither of which are included in the Westside Solutions’ jurisdiction, nor are they represented on the committee.

“This is where true collaboration has to come into play,” says Victoria’s Helps, “because [while] there’s an Eastside and a Westside committee, the governance structure does not reflect the reality of the pipes underground. We could run into real trouble with that.”

Corps suggests the two groups could agree to include Victoria West as part of the Westside’s responsibility, but Saanich would be much more difficult. “So Saanich’s flow would have to be diverted to the east side. But if the Westside includes Saanich and/or Victoria’s flows, the Westside ends up building a plant that is way bigger,” he says, noting CRD’s latest data shows the Westside would have to build a plant one and a half times larger than CRD say the Westside needs. “That may prove nearly as unpopular as the McLoughlin plan. What [the committees] are dealing with are an east connector and a west connector. With a distributed system there are intervention points to interrupt the flow, treat it and recover the resources close to their source. If you did that, you wouldn’t have this downstream problem to deal with in the first place, which ironically is better for both community flexibility and developers.” Corps added: “For example, unless changed—and their scope expressly says they won’t—the Westside looks likely to increase costs for Langford developers and taxpayers by roughly double what it could be with an optimized distributed model.”

Another thorny political snare could pit Langford against Oak Bay, according to both Corps and Bryan Gilbert, a long-time critic of the CRD project. Both say that Langford is targeted to increase its sewer capacity far beyond its projected needs over the foreseeable future, while on the other side of the region, Oak Bay needs to refurbish or replace many kilometres of old pipes to stop its sewage inflow ending up in the stormwater drainage system—a requirement under the current plan. The CRD’s January 7 documents single out Oak Bay for not doing enough on this matter. When asked about this issue, Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen didn’t seem aware of the problem. “The infiltration of concern is the other way around, namely storm water seeping into the sewer lines,” Jensen said. In fact, Oak Bay has both problems but so far has done little to address either. Nor does Jensen appear willing to challenge the allocation of so much capacity—and funding—to Langford for growth that may not happen even though money is needed now to keep sewage out of Oak Bay’s stormwater drains. “Langford is a growing community that requires more capacity over the coming decades,” Jensen said. “On the other hand, Oak Bay is a very stable population with very little growth expected which may require less capacity as [rainwater inflow and infiltration] are dealt with and water conservation trends continue. A perfectly equitable funding formula in such different circumstances is indeed challenging.” Jensen chairs both the CRD and the sewage committee.

The McLoughlin plan would increase Langford’s capacity by 337 percent, from 4.2 million litres per day to 14.2 million litres, ostensibly because growth projections—made in 2009 when the CRD was projecting a boom in multi-family housing on the Westshore that never happened—pointed in this direction. Such an expansion might benefit developers on the Westshore, but Langford taxpayers could end up paying double their current tax as a result.

The public and political pushback to the plan to provide more capacity than necessary could even prompt both Colwood and Langford to abandon the Westside coalition, Gilbert warns.

Some of these issues are unlikely to be solved by the Westside Solutions or the Eastside Select Committee on their own, at least not under their current terms of reference, which by and large confines their role to sounding out public opinion and recommending preferred solutions. Indeed, Gilbert is concerned that the subregional committees might fall apart under the strain.

“I look on these subregional groups now as study groups—raising discussion and engaging local communities, whether they raise solutions or not,” he says. “The main benefit they can have is to get those who live along the sewer trunk lines and the shorelines to fully understand the issue and to get them to support a reasonable solution.”

Assuming all of this can be brought under control and resolved and that the subregional committees are able to come up with a consensus agreement on the solution the region wants to pursue, what happens next? How likely is it that the sewage committee and the CRD Board, which have the final say and which up to now have refused to alter course, will vote to approve a new model of sewage treatment?

“If you look at the current CRD directors, there is perhaps a majority on the sewage committee who would support a sustainable model,” says Corps. “But the final decision on financials happens at the Board where it’s more difficult to predict because the vote is proportional. You’d have to go down the member list one by one and determine not just how each might vote, but what that vote is worth in the proportional system.”

Others are more optimistic. Vic Derman, for one, believes that the near-unanimous vote to approve his motion to research alternative models is a game-changer, although he admits it won’t work without other changes as well. “I would hope that [the Board] would agree they are there to adopt the best solution for their constituents and not there just to defend a single position,” he says. “The biggest issue is that everybody has to be willing to be objective and get informed about the integrated approach. If they don’t we could end up with the same plan.”

(As Focus was going to press with this edition, Helps was elected chair and Derman vice-chair of the Eastside Select Committee.)
- Derry McDonell’s career includes stints as Editor of Monday Magazine, publisher/editor of BC Digest and the first publisher of Canadian HR Reporter.


Victoria's Secret: Dumping Raw Sewage Like It's 1915

The icky, smelly, rotten no-good political mess that could cost taxpayers a billion. (Yes, a billion!)

Sarah Berman
Westside treatment plans creep forward

Mike Davies
Goldstream News Gazette
Feb 2, 2015

What’s the best way to approach sewage treatment on Greater Victoria’s west side?

That will be determined using feedback garnered from a series of open houses held recently by Westside Solutions in Colwood, Esquimalt, Langford, Songhees First Nation, and last Thursday at View Royal town hall.

So where do we go from here?

Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton said now the hard work begins, which is to take that feedback, streamline it and come up with concrete options for the project to present back to the public during round 2 of the consultations.

Despite a good turnout at the open houses, many people struggled to offer feedback because they wanted actual treatment options to choose from, said Michael Baxter, Colwood’s director of engineering.

Given that the process is largely starting from scratch again after a Capital Region-wide plan for sewage treatment fell apart, the Westside program is in the early stages.

“We need to ask them the very general questions up front and get a sense of what they want,” he said.

“Then you take that information and come back to them with, ‘this is what you wanted, here’s the price tag.’”

According to Christine Houghton of Aurora Consultants, the consulting firm tasked with project communication, among other things, aspects of feedback gathered from open houses and surveys will be incorporated into the plan, where possible.

“We’re not taking anything off the table at this point,” she said at the View Royal session.

While the input process is complicated, she added, it’s important to get it right at the start of projects of this size. This new consultation stage is informed by the failure of the larger project and the way it came together.

“If you feel someone is doing something to you,” Houghton said, “your reaction is to push back. But if you feel someone is doing something with you, you’re more likely to; if not to participate; at least feel kindlier towards the initiative, knowing it’s not something that’s being imposed on you.”

Hamilton agreed.

“There were some key steps in the process that were missed during the previous try at this,” she said.

With Colwood having independently researched and consulted with various other treatment facilities over the last number of months, they’d be ready if the city chose to go that route, Hamilton said.

“Right from the beginning we were doing our research and developing a plan to have a facility in Colwood for Colwood,” she said adding that would give them a huge head start on any agreed-upon initiatives down the line.

“We’ve done our homework and we continue to explore, alongside the Westside Solutions discussions, … the factors of what we can and can’t do. Whether it’s just as Colwood or with whatever (Westside Solutions) ends up developing, we’ll be ready when the time comes to get this done.”

Victoria resident Bryan Gilbert brought his own research to the View Royal consultation in an attempt to help simplify the issue for people.

“When we commit ourselves to a billion dollars in capital, and commit ourselves to $15 million of operating costs every year into the future, I think there’s something to be concerned about,” he said. “It’s a complex topic, so I consider it just part of my civic duty to help simplify it for people. I’ve done a lot of research on this, so I’m just here to help people digest the information a little easier.”

Gilbert admitted he “used to be in the camp of ‘let’s not do this at all.’” He said he now realizes this is something that needs to happen and is going to happen, so he hopes others will engage the process positively, rather than looking at the mistakes of past efforts.

“Where we’re at right now is great. We’re being consulted this time,” he said.

“This isn’t just them telling us what they’re going to do, this is a time where the public can – and needs to – get informed and help make the decision. We can actually have a voice this time, if we get ourselves up to speed on it.

“I would like to move forward. I don’t want to go bashing the old stuff. There were lots of mistakes made and it would be nice if people admitted them, but we are where we are right now, so let’s move on. Let’s go.”

The next round of public consultations will take place once there are feasible options to discuss. No timeline has been determined for that stage of input.

CRD Sewage videos and presentation pdfs

Video now posted of CRD sewage committee's 4 Feb 2.5 hour "Sewage 101" workshop: http://crd.ca.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=311

Video of earlier CRD sewage committee "Orientation" 7 January 1.5 hour presentation starts at 00:23:00 minute mark in video: http://crd.ca.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=278

Click here to download the presentation pdfs for these workshops:

Sewage fund millions seen to be at risk

6 Feb 2015
Times Colonist

Stalled program means Greater Victoria might not meet deadlines for federal cash

Millions of dollars in federal cash are at risk as local politicians scramble to reinvent Greater Victoria’s stalled sewage treatment program.

“The pressure is on and the urgency is there for us to get a resolution,” Capital Regional District chairman Nils Jensen said.

The project has a budget of $788 million. The federal government has committed $253 million coming out of three pots: $120 million from the Building Canada Fund toward the treatment plant; $50 million from the Canada Green Fund for pipes, pump stations and tanks, and $83.4 million from PPP Canada for a biosolids plant.

Building Canada and Canada Green Fund grants carry 2019 project completion deadlines. PPP Canada funding calls for work on the plant to begin between fall 2014 and fall 2017, and be operational by March 31, 2018.

CRD staff have asked for an extension. The feds have offered to push the deadline back a year, but only if the CRD meets certain conditions, including committing to a timeline and project scope and having all approvals in place by March 31, 2016.

“In the event that CRD cannot identify and obtain necessary approvals for the site locations associated with wastewater treatment on or before March 31, 2016, PPP Canada will unfortunately need to reconsider the funding associated with the project,” says a recent letter to the CRD from PPP Canada.

CRD directors essentially have a year to determine where a treatment plant or plants will be built, and have zoning and other approvals in place, or $83.4 million could be gone, Jensen said.

It is unclear what impact loss of federal funding for biosolids would have on the $62 million in provincial funding earmarked for the biosolids plant, Jensen said. “So we’re jeopardizing anywhere from $83 million to $145 million on that plant alone,” he said. The province has committed a total of $248 million.

All federal funding is tied to the Seaterra wastewater treatment program, which would have seen a regional treatment plant at Esquimalt’s McLoughlin Point in operation by 2018. But last year, Esquimalt refused to rezone McLoughlin to permit the plant, and the province refused to override the decision.

Changing the plant location could have a significant impact on federal grants, Jensen said.

“These fundings weren’t available for concepts. In other words, you couldn’t just say we’d like to do some sewage treatment, how about some money? The way these pots work is you had to be specific. You had to be specific about location and you had to be specific about the scope and you had to be specific about the timing,” Jensen said. “That means if we were to change one of those three parameters, it could be deemed to be a significant change.” The CRD might have to reapply “and get back into line” for funds, Jensen said.

The Green Canada fund no longer exists, he said. “There is no line with that pot. So if we are deemed to have made a significant alteration, we would no longer qualify for that and that’s the end of that program.”

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell told CRD directors this week that the federal government remains committed to funding sewage treatment regardless of scope change. He quoted an August letter from federal Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Denis Lebel to Langford Mayor Stew Young in which Lebel says proposed changes, such as plant location, would have to be reviewed but that the federal government remains committed to providing “significant funding.”

“I do believe we have a duty to take care of the funding deadlines and keep those in mind, but . . . that is a significant commitment from the federal government to provide those [funding] pots we were looking at earlier,” Atwell said.

Jensen said the federal government might “remain committed” but a significant change could mean the CRD has to reapply. Further, he said, the letter was written in August. “It’s a very different political and financial reality that we have facing us right now.”

Since McLoughlin was rejected, Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood, Langford and the Songhees First Nation have formed a committee to explore alternatives. Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay have done the same.

Editorial: Move ahead on sewage plans

FEBRUARY 7, 2015

Deadlines concerning new sewage-treatment facilities for the capital region are fast approaching, and unless rapid progress is made, taxpayers face the risk of paying for the massive project with 100-cent dollars, rather than 33-cent dollars. It would not pay to dangle temptation in front of provincial and federal governments focused on lean budgets.

That said, the Capital Regional District should not resort to fear-mongering in an attempt to bring municipalities and the public into line. The project was stalled because of the CRD’s inability to move the project ahead and its failure to foster an attitude of co-operation.

The federal and provincial governments have ordered the region to build a secondary sewage-treatment plant, rather than dumping filtered sewage into the ocean. For the $788-million project, the federal government has committed $253 million from three sources, each with a different deadline. The majority of the federal funding is contingent on meeting 2019 completion deadlines.

The province has committed $248 million to the project, and the CRD is responsible for the balance.

There is an urgency to find a solution, as CRD chairman Nils Jensen points out, but a new approach must be taken in arriving at that solution. While opposition to the plan was vocal and persistent, the CRD needs to look inward before blaming others.

People complained about a lack of opportunity for public input, and while open houses and information sessions were held, the perception persisted that the CRD was trying to sell a plan, rather than seeking responses and suggestions. When the CRD, without a real plan or consultation, bought land in Esquimalt for the biosolids component of the project, it confirmed in many people’s minds the impression that the district intended to push the plan through, no matter what.

Whether perceptions are accurate or not, they need to be dealt with sensitively and respectfully.

There are limits to public consultation, of course. At some point, the discussion must be closed, all perspectives considered and decisions made. And in the case of the sewage project, the time to accomplish that has become greatly compressed, all the more reason to move quickly to consult and arrive at a consensus for a plan of action.

There are differing views on the federal government’s commitment to the project. Federal officials have said major changes in site or scope would mean grants have to be reviewed, and Jensen is concerned about that.

On the other hand, Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell says Ottawa remains committed to funding sewage treatment, regardless of changes in scope.

The differing views are not as much about support for the project but availability of funds. It took three federal pots of money to come up with the equivalent of one-third of the cost. Sure, Ottawa is probably still committed, but with oil prices down and an election in the offing, letting any of those grant eligibilities expire runs a real risk of losing the money.

The federal government’s commitment needs to be clarified and confirmed so that discussions can be based on fact, not speculation. Direct questions need to be asked; clear answers should be required.

And there is limited time to do that.

So get moving, find consensus, talk to federal and provincial governments about the problem. Attempts to force municipalities to simply fall in line are doomed to fail.

That task is not easy. And there will always be dissatisfied stakeholders. But it’s the job at hand.

The sewage-treatment plant is not likely top of mind for most people in the capital region. They might think about it momentarily, then they flush and forget.

But they will remember when the tax bill arrives, especially if it is massively larger than they expected.



Sewage funding should not be put at risk (Kaye)

FEBRUARY 7, 2015
Re: “Sewage fund millions seen to be at risk,” Feb. 6.

The statements from federal officials about the deadlines for completion of the Capital Regional District sewage-treatment project should not come as a surprise.

The CRD entered into a funding agreement with senior levels of government for completing a specific project, in an identified location, by a set timeline. If the CRD reneges on those commitments, as it seems poised to do, there is no guarantee the federal or provincial funding will be there for any alternate sewage-treatment project.

Stating this fact is not “alarmist” or “fear-mongering,” but simply reflects the realities of government funding agreements. There is no blank cheque for infrastructure projects that allows the proponent to change major project components arbitrarily, nor should there be.

With many city politicians talking about affordability as a key priority for the new council term, as a taxpayer, I hope the west-side and east-side sewage committees move rapidly to identify alternate sites and treatment models for finalization. The biggest threat to affordability in the CRD right now is losing the federal and provincial funding for sewage treatment, and the mayors and councils who are involved in this issue need to keep that fact uppermost in their minds.

Erik Kaye


Making public comments public vital to sewage planning process (Regier)

Goldstream News Gazette
Feb 5, 2015

Re: Westside treatment plans creep forward (Gazette, Feb. 4)

This report is an excellent example of concerned residents getting directly involved in issues concerning sewage treatment: Bryan Gilbert, a Victoria resident, participating in a View Royal open house discussion for our mutual benefit. All residents of the core area municipalities have a stake in the successful outcome of this Westside initiative, and soon to follow in the Eastside.

However, the comment by Colwood engineering director Michael Baxter that ‘this is what you wanted, here’s the price tag,’ does not bode well for an enlightened two-way discussion with those that have to pay the bill. Inflated or misleading cost estimates were a big part of the CRD’s problems previously. Costs need to be vetted by independent third parties and compared on an equal basis.

The Westside Solutions committee should make public the comments received in response to their open houses and surveys to open the discussion further to all interested individuals. In addition, information received in response to the Westside’s Request for Technical Information should be made available for public viewing, so everyone can be enlightened with information on available technical innovations and cost efficiencies.

Oscar Regier