Wednesday, October 18, 2017
News Council

At a packed Council Chambers, Council gathered to hear feedback from the public about the potential costs of the South Sewer project. Council will make a decision at the Nov 9 Council Meeting.

Background

CAO Sundance Topham explained the background to the meeting, that the South Sewer project has high potential for PPP (public private partnership) funding that will cover some more of the costs of the project. 

The Village is out of compliance, with high levels of phospohorous flowing into the Trent River and Baynes Sound. The village has been engaged in development of a Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP) for the past 16 years. Options that were being considered and refined in earlier years became unsuitable when the Village OCP defined significant residential and commercial growth. 

The South Sewer option was recommended to council in 2011 by a Council Committee, and that recommendation was adopted, with conditions regarding finance and governance of the proposed system. The village has been working with CVRD and KFN to work out governance issues and financial costs. 

The CVRD steering committee has chosen a project option that involves connection of the system to the Cape Lazo treatment centre and outfall via a pipe beneath the Estuary. They also defined a way to split costs based upon sewer flows. 

Cost estimates for Cumberland based solutions in 2011 ranged from $22m to $27m, which was a major factor in deciding to join with the South Sewer project. The Union of BC Muncipalities has offered $15m towards the project, and PPP Canada funding, if successful, could bring 25% of project costs - and not as a fixed dollar amount but a percentage, helping to cover any cost over-runs during the project. 

With PPP funding, Cumberland's cost share is expected to about $10m (with a +/-30% estimate accuracy) This works out to about $1000 per residential customer per year for at least 20 years.  

News - Council

Here's what happened at the Council meeting on October 13th. All Councilors were present.

Long Range Water Strategy

CAO Sundance Topham presented a report asking Council for direction on long term strategy for the Village's water supply. Recent events and requirements have identified significant costs related to UV sterilisation, work on No.2 dam spillway to avoid sediment discharge to Comox Lake during heavy rains and filtration needs within the next few years. 

Councilor Kettler suggested that we need more information about the CVRD long range strategy and asked about the option for a deep water intake in Comox Lake feeding the Cumberland supply. Mayor Baird noted that this option had been rejected. Councillor Kettler felt that long term, we would have to be part of the Regional system. 

Mayor Baird expressed concern about Comox Lake as a water supply, felt that Cumberland should do a further study to look at all options before asking to go into a regional system. "We own our system, it is easy to protect and I've always wanted it to remain as our system."

Councilor Kishi recalled that when Cumberland expressed a preference for a deep water intake, the Water Commission flatly rejected the request. The governance model for the regional supply is based on usage, which doesn't support or reward conservation, and the model is not right. 

Councilor Sproule noted that, expensive as our problems may be, joining a CVRD system might not be cheaper. She expressed concerns about the governance of the regional system, and it is difficult to compare a system that is profligately run without meters or demand management with our system where we have done a lot on conservation. It is a long way until the regional system has a deep water intake, filtration and other infrastructure. We would have to build pipes and pumps from Lake Trail road to get it here. 

Councilor Sullivan echoed Councillor Sproule's concerns and supported trying to maintain an independent system. 

News - Council

Cumberland Council are expected to vote on Tuesday to suspend the plans to upgrade the existing water system and either formally request to join the CVRD system from Comox Lake, or commission a new strategy study at a cost of up to $75k. 

Cumberland’s aging water supply has presented challenges for many years, most recently an order from Island Health which named problems with the No. 2 Dam spillway as a partial cause of the turbidity and boil water situation in Comox Lake. Solving this could cost up to $8m, though it is unclear how costs might be shared between the parties involved.

The Village is also required to fit UV sterilization equipment to the water supply, a condition of the VIHA operating permit for the water system issued in 2013. This was supposed to be operating by the end of September, but 2015, but the design work has only just been completed and estimated costs have risen from $500k to at least $1.4m, with a recommendation to spend a further $600k to double up the supply line from the Chlorine Shack to the Village. 

Given the potential for multimillion dollar costs in the next few years, Council is asked to make the difficult choice between giving up on the Village’s aging but independent water supply, or spending money on further studies to look at other solutions while asking VIHA to allow the system to continue out of compliance and at risk of another turbidity event in Comox Lake. 

News - Council

Earlier this year, Cumberland Council rejected the CVRD’s South Sewer plan after residents and businesses made it clear that the costs were unaffordable. At the time, residents were projected to see property tax increases of over $1200 per year, or $2400 for those with secondary suites, to pay for the $60m+ project involving a sewer pipe under the Comox Estuary and fully treated waste discharged off Cape Lazo. 

There was always the potential for PPP (public private partnership) grant funding for this project, and that funding is now looking more likely after feedback from PPP Canada that provision of a formal Business Case will give the project a strong change of funding for 25% of the project.

If successful, this funding would halve the property tax increase, leaving homeowners with an estimated $630 annual increase per unit. Cumberland Council will consider whether this possibility is enough to bring the project back for public consultation with a view to rejoining the project, or if these costs, and the proposed solution, are still unacceptable in Cumberland. 

News - Council

Residents asked questions and raised concerns, and council gave updates on issues and activities.

Cyclist safety - concern about space and sight lines on the road out of Cumberland. Wanting interim measure until the road is rebuilt.

Pesticide and Herbicide spraying - spraying this morning on wrong plants, complained before and expected it to change but did it again, on Allen.

Mural on Telus building next to the legion would be nice - Cumberland Culture and Arts Society is in discussions with Telus and artists. It's in a heritage permit area, so should be brought back to council when more developed.

Welcome Sign - great to see the engagement in the discussion about how to describe our village. Maybe instead of even choosing a single word, have slots to change it out - on Valentines it could be the 'frisky' Village of Cumberland. Then everyone would have a chance to like and dislike what it says on the sign. We'd be the 'dynamic' Village.

Sewer Project

Cost of South Sewer project and tax raises - Council have told CVRD that the cost is too high and the project will need to be revised.

News - Council

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