July 26, 2015

Chair of ARESST is beside himself with anger
Saanich rejects Watkiss sewage treatment option again 
Saanich council again rejects Watkiss site for sewage plant
Watkiss Way site flushed in a political whirlpool
Door remains open for additional sewage sites
Anti-treatment group trying different approach with feds
Eastside, Westside & CRD sewage meets 28, 29 July 

Time to stop using the ocean as a toilet (McConnell)
Westside sewage info still foggy to reader (Olson)

Chair of ARESST is beside himself with anger

July 20, 2015 10:36 AM from Frank Stanford

So I guess the Chair of ARESST is beside himself with anger, over an
email he got from the Auditor General's office...and quite frankly, he
should be.

It was an insult to all Canadians.

Whether you agree with the argument that this particular citizens'
group is trying to make or not, they have a point that they think is
important.  And what they got, when they tried to be heard, was worse
than a political run-around.  It was worse than a patronizing

Basically, the email back from the Auditor General's office says 'you
don't have a federal issue'...it's a Victoria issue; you should take
it up with the Victorian Auditor General...and by the way here's a
link to their website.

This is the part you're not going to believe.  You click on the link;
it takes to the Auditor General of the State of Victoria, Australia.


It would be easy to chuck barbs at the staff of the Ottawa office for
its obvious geographical challenges, but I don't believe anybody in
that office is actually that ignorant.  I think the reality is even

They didn't care.  They couldn't be bothered to read, much less
understand or weigh the complaint being made by a Canadian
citizen...the priority was to "get it out here" as fast as we can, and
it literally doesn't matter where we send it.  To an Auditor's office
is another country?  Who cares?

That is a wildly inadequate response to a complaint that somebody in
Canada thinks is important.  Whether you happen to agree with ARESST's
point or not.

This is Frank Stanford


Saanich rejects Watkiss sewage treatment option again 

Mayor Atwell: "I'm a little disappointed, not because Council voted the way that it did, but more that the votes that were done at Council, in mind, aren't logical enough for me"



Saanich council again rejects Watkiss site for sewage plant

JULY 20, 2015

A proposed sewage-treatment site near Victoria General Hospital has been given a second thumbs-down by Saanich council.

Council had voted 5-4 on June 22 against sending a portion of a privately owned 30-acre Agricultural Land Reserve parcel on Watkiss Way to the Capital Regional District for consideration as a location for treatment. They followed that up Monday night with a 4-4 vote. Coun. Dean Murdock, who had previously voted against the motion, was away on Monday.

The tie means the motion to send the proposal to the CRD was defeated.

There had been a June 24 deadline for private sites in the area covered by the CRD’s Eastside Select Committee, which includes Saanich, to be vetted through municipalities prior to being forwarded to the CRD.

There was no such process for Westside Solutions, the committee looking at sewage-treatment sites in the western part of the region.

The Watkiss proposal, which looks to use about 12 acres for a treatment facility, was on the agenda again after being brought forward by Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell, who voted in June to send the proposal to the CRD.

“After an examination of the public reaction to the decision, from Saanich residents and indeed from citizens across the region, I have elected to bring this decision back to council for reconsideration,” he said Monday, reading from a memo to council.

The land is owned by Allan Vandekerkhove, which has raised questions about campaign donations made during last November’s municipal elections. Vandekerkhove donated $5,000 to the campaign of Saanich Coun. Fred Haynes, while a numbered company listing Vandekerkhove as its director gave $10,000 to Atwell’s campaign.

Haynes, who also supported sending the Watkiss proposal to the CRD, said his lawyer told him there is no conflict in the situation. Haynes said he simply feels the Watkiss proposal deserves a closer look.

“Anybody can donate,” Haynes said. “It doesn’t matter the size of the donation. The question is ‘Was that donation given or received in response to a commitment for decisions or favour?’ And so in the absence of that there is no conflict.”

Atwell responded to the conflict question in an email, pointing out no financial decisions are being made about the property.

“It is only a decision to forward or not to forward this property to the CRD for technical analysis.”

Atwell’s memo to council pointed out that the Watkiss site is close to the sewer main running down Burnside Road West from the Marigold pump station and is in the area of the recently upgraded Craigflower pump station. The memo said the site could also be used for greenhouses that would use ambient heat from the plant.

Concerns raised about the site Monday included the fact the land is in the ALR.

Watkiss Way site flushed in a political whirlpool

Travis Paterson
Saanich News
Updated Jul 21, 2015 at 2:16 PM

Misinformation, competitive politics and a flawed process were among the many opinions from supporters and opponents of the Watkiss Way property, which was voted down as a potential sewage treatment site by Saanich council on Monday.

It was the second time in a month council voted against forwarding the Allen Vandekerkhove-owned site for consideration to the Capital Regional District's Eastside Select Committee.

Mayor Richard Atwell brought the item back to council knowing the public was highly interested in weighing in on the issue that was defeated 5-4 at the June 22 council meeting, with Coun. Susan Brice, Vicki Sanders, Vic Derman, Judy Brownoff and Dean Murdoch opposed.

The submission deadline for private property sites to the CRD Eastside Select Committee was June 24. Coun. Vic Derman is vice chair of the committee on which also sits Atwell, Brice, Brownoff and Plant.

Despite Murdoch's absence on Monday, the votes remained the same, with the item was defeated in a 4-4 split.

"I think the process of site selection is broken, we're making decisions based on council motions and not on technical merit," Atwell said. "How are we going to design a sewage treatment system that's technical in nature using this mechanism?”

At this time, councils are getting the first right of refusal for potential sites, and are striking them down now rather than dealing with them later, Atwell added.

"I don't think private property owners should be rejected outright. No one on council has the technical ability to make those decisions, they're simply saying we don't want it in our backyard."

Ray Parks, a consultant representing Vandekerkhove, said there is a misconception that the owner plans to remove the property from ALR.

"Vandekerkhove never proposed taking the land out of the (Agricultural Land Reserve). In fact, he wants to add land to the ALR. You couldn't grow rocks there today and you couldn't grow rocks there in the future, we have soil reports for that … anyone can see if you add 10 acres of green house it'll be productive."

Dozens of local residents, from Saanich, View Royal, Esquimalt and Victoria, took advantage of Saanich's new public forum opportunity, spending nearly an hour-and-a-half expressing opinions on Watkiss.

Some lauded Saanich for its past and present efforts to retain ALR land, while others pointed to situations in B.C. where waste treatment sites do in fact sit on ALR land.

Others accused Saanich of bottlenecking the process, making decisions that should be done by the CRD-appointed experts and committee.

"It's a difficult decision," said Coun. Colin Plant. "We're asking to send the site forward so the public can weigh in, we're not experts on engineering or the ALC. I hope that it goes forward and the public comes out to speak, and based on the feedback Monday, the amount of indecision [and] controversy around this has me thinking it would be difficult for CRD staff to accept this."

Atwell and Haynes were both accused of having a conflict of interest, as each received $10,000 and $5,000 respectively from Vandekerkhove's registered corporation, 360305 B.C. Ltd. on Burnside Road, during their 2014 election campaigns.

Both dispelled the notion of a conflict as there was zero financial gain in their interest. However, it didn't stop several councillors from bringing the matter up again.

"I was once told and [lived by the rule that] if the thought at all crossed your mind [that someone before council contributed to your campaign] then you should air it out just to be safe," Sanders said.

Derman expressed great concern over accepting public contributions but also admitted the process for finding and considering private sites is flawed. Despite that, he voted against the Watkiss Way site, citing other reasons of non-feasability.

"This came as a site but we need a solution set, not just a site," Derman said.


Door remains open for additional sewage sites

Travis Paterson
Saanich News
July 23, 2015 at 11:00 AM

Once the Watkiss Way balloon popped on Monday night and the majority of the public filed out of the room, Saanich council immediately defeated a similar sewage site proposal at 4300 Interurban Rd. for much of the same reasons, but this time with little public input.

The five-hectare site is a composting facility sitting directly across Interurban from Camosun College and Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence campuses. However, it came up too late, councillors said.

The submission deadline for private property sites to the CRD Eastside Select Committee was June 24.

Coun. Susan Brice motioned to give Saanich staff the power to deny any further submissions of private property for referral to the Eastside committee. That was defeated, leaving the door open for each case to be reviewed by council.

Council did approve three additional sites for consideration to the Eastside committee. All of them are pump stations – Marigold at 901 Marigold Ave., Penrhyn at 2620 Sinclair Rd., and the Royal Jubilee Hospital at 2355 Richmond Rd.

The Eastside committee had requested the publicly owned stations be forwarded.

Anti-treatment group trying different approach with feds
Don Descoteau
Goldstream News Gazette (Click here for letter submission form)
Jul 23, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Westside and Eastside committees continue to work toward finding sites that could host a sewage treatment plant and related resource recovery facilities.

But that isn’t stopping a local anti-treatment advocacy group from continuing its battle to convince local politicians and the Capital Regional District to halt work on the nearly $1-billion project, given what the group argues is the lack of scientific evidence pointing to the need for treatment here.

The Association for Responsible and Environmentally Sustainable Sewage Treatment (ARESST) has sent a formal request for a performance audit of the 2012 federal wastewater regulations, as they relate to Greater Victoria, to the Auditor General of Canada.

View Royal resident and ARESST chair Brian Burchill says the regulations, as written, contradict scientific studies that support the screening and outfall system currently used to disperse of sewage from the south part of the region.

“It’s not as though there’s reports from public health officers that people are getting sick,” he says. “The aquatic activities are still going on, nobody’s cutting back on their recreation. We’re using the waterfront because it’s safe to use.”

He says the existence of marine ecological reserves on both sides of the region’s two outfalls, off Clover Point in Victoria and Macaulay Point in Esquimalt, points to the fact that the sea life is flourishing in the area.

While the original request to the federal auditor general was met with a head-scratching suggestion to approach the Auditor General office in Victoria, Australia, Burchill says, a second attempt was made recently to get the request directly into the hands of Auditor General Michael Ferguson.

ARESST, whose supporters include people from University of Victoria-based marine biologists to former federal minister of environment David Anderson, has made multiple presentations on the subject to the Capital Regional District board since its formation in 2009, but its arguments against treatment have been mostly ignored, Burchill says.

“Fighting the CRD is a waste of time,” he says of trying to convince politicians. “They are so bullheaded and they have the majority of power. I think part of the driving force is it will be a big boon to the local economy to have a billion dollars injected into it, but it’s for something we don’t need.”

Regardless whether Ferguson seriously considers the request, Langford Coun. Denise Blackwell, a member and former chair of the region’s liquid waste management committee, doesn’t expect it will succeed, based on her knowledge of previous discussions of Greater Victoria’s sewage dispersement methods.

She recalled that the CRD had representation on a committee looking at proposed federal regulations before they were made into law. Despite having explained the unique characteristics of Greater Victoria’s fjord-like marine environment, the CRD found itself subject to the same broad criteria as every other coastal community.

“At the time, it was us saying there’s nothing wrong (in the marine environment), but we’ve never had any indication from anybody that (the decision) would change,” she said. “The feds are not willing to look at it and not willing to revisit it.”

Vic Derman, a Saanich councillor and vice-chair of the Eastside select committee looking into sewage solutions for his municipality, Victoria and Oak Bay, was among the early critics of the federal regulations. While he still says their “one-size-fits-all” criteria inappropriately puts our area in the same category as communities that empty their sewage into less vigorous waters, he prefers to look at the current east-west strategy being undertaken to find appropriate sites as providing an opportunity to emerge with a bigger-picture solution.

“ARESST is accurate in saying the federal regulations have been poorly applied,” he said. “However, their request may be moot if we can turn this into an impressive sustainability project.”

Rather than worrying about whether the region might be unfairly categorized under the federal wastewater regulations, Derman’s main concern is that the process of finding a site and choosing the right technology be done differently than before, when the CRD focused on the one-site McLoughlin Point solution that was ultimately rejected for rezoning by Esquimalt council.


Eastside, Westside & CRD sewage meetings coming up 28, 29 July. 


Time to stop using the ocean as a toilet (McConnell)

JULY 23, 2015 08:20 AM

Re: “All opposing sewage input neglected,” letter, July 19.

I am sick and tired of people saying it’s OK to use the ocean as their own personal toilet bowl. We in Victoria has been doing this way too long.

It’s time to move on and start treating our own sewage. It’s the only responsible thing to do. We owe it to ourselves, our children and the sea.

Let’s get on with it.

Dave McConnell

Westside sewage info still foggy to reader (Olson)

Goldstream News Gazette
July 23, 2015 7:00 PM

Re: Westside sitespeak

The site selection process for a sewage treatment plant is in full swing according to recent news.

Royal Colwood Golf Club offers land, for example. Lots of meetings.

However, a visit to westsidesolutions.ca provides very little information from the “technical committee” about what it is that will sit on these sites. What treatment systems and buildings are going to sit in these locations and hence, what might be the impacts?

Surely this is what people want to know when asked for their input: “How will what exists on the site and what its operations are affect me?”

Perhaps an article on the progress of the technical committee might be useful re: impacts and costs.

John Olson