July 5, 2015

Editorial: Three years since sewage funding announcement, and little to show for it
Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee meets 2015-07-08

Victoria outmanoeuvred on sewage sites(Heinemann) 
Rock Bay site is not just industrial (Lester)
Unbelievable result in Watkiss Way sewage vote (Villa)
Sewage treatment (Weatherill)

Editorial: Three years since sewage funding announcement, and little to show for it

Saanich News
Jun 30, 2015 at 11:00 AM

Three years ago this month, a dozen politicians gathered at the Inn at Laurel Point for a press conference about sewage treatment funding. Reporters from every outlet in town took furious notes as officials proudly committed $500 million from the provincial and federal governments towards the most expensive project in Capital Region history.

Langford Coun. Denise Blackwell, then chair of the CRD’s core area liquid waste management committee, estimated shovels would be in the ground by the “beginning of next year, for sure.”

That year came and went, as did 2014, with little more than an upgraded pumping station and $60 million to show for it, as ill-advised plans to put a wastewater treatment plant and a biosolids facility in Esquimalt imploded.

An educated public raised hell to push the reset button and eventually proved that the democratic process can still putter to life when prodded.

But what has the region actually accomplished since that hot July morning full of gold-star promises?

The CRD is at least attempting to collaboratively restart the sewage locomotive before federal treatment guidelines come down hard in 2020; and local elections have installed new mayors who prize public engagement over cocooned decision-making in the two largest Southern Island municipalities.

As Langford Mayor Stew Young told the News recently, the botched Seaterra program has been “a debacle and waste of taxpayers’ money,” and he noted most of that wasted money won’t be recovered.

That means the final price tag for a regional sewage treatment network is almost certainly going to increase beyond the allotted $788 million, which means the overspend will be siphoned directly from the coffers of municipalities and by proxy, homeowners’ bank accounts.

When the people stop being heard, they get angry. As Saanich Coun. Leif Wergeland noted when Saanich rejected the Watkiss Way site for consideration: “I think it’s important we let our citizens decide.”

Instead, only five people made a decision for the entire region that day. People were denied a chance to view the evidence for themselves.

Politicians like Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and other accessible CRD directors deserve credit for buckling down on the Westside and Eastside sewage committees to openly engage the public on selecting the best sites. The transparent process provides hope that some politicians are shaking off the slumber of the past decade and recognizing that their closed-loop feedback system has backfired catastrophically.


Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee meets 2015-07-08 9am. 

Agenda and reports includes:

- Presentation by Colwood Committee Wastewater Treatment;
- Terms of Reference - Fairness and Transparency Advisor; 
- Seaterra Program and Budget Update No. 25;
- CAOS - Critical Path with Key Initiatives and Roles - May to December 2015; 
- Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program Cashflow Report;
- Request for Proposals Evaluation Team - Independent Engineering and Financial Analysis;
- Motion for Which Notice Has Been Given: Options for Wastewater Treatment (Director Hamilton)



Rock Bay site is not just industrial (Lester)

Unbelievable result in Watkiss Way sewage vote (Villa)

Saanich News
Jul 1, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Re: Langford mayor blasts Saanich on sewage site rejection, News (June 26)

Thank you so much for covering Saanich council’s rejection of the Watkiss Way site. I cannot believe it got voted down by 5-4. I really thought it was only a formality and that council would happily send it along to be properly vetted by professionals.

I am grateful that some of the council is aware enough of the issues and wants public and professionals’ input into decisions like this. It would seem that they are continuing to have to fight against some of the “old guard” who seem as though they can’t see past whatever the status quo is. When it comes to ALR, cows in residential neighbourhoods comes to mind.

Yet another paternalistic decision made by our council. I agree with Mayor Stew Young when he says, “I don’t see how politicians think they know better than the experts”.  How can they be so arrogant? Three and a half more years of this?

Laurel Villa


Sewage treatment (Weatherill)

Focus magazine
July/August 2015

Wherever do people get the notion that sewage treatment is not needed? Back in the early 1990s, the mantra seemed to be “the ocean is our friend,” even as report after report began to show that, while the ocean might be our friend, we are definitely not friends of the oceans of the world. We treat the oceans like a cesspool, and because water covers a greater percentage of the Earth’s surface than does land, we (in our primordial hind brain) think its capacity is infinite. But, like they say that nearly every paper bill of currency has traces of cocaine on it, so does every scoop of ocean water have traces of some foreign substance in it, including pharmaceuticals, oil, plastics, agricultural runoff, radioactive waste, and even sunscreen—which has been shown to kill off corals.

But “out of sight is out of mind.” Why “waste” money on waste, when we can use it for more glitter?

Richard Weatherill