Tuesday, February 19, 2019
News Council Sewage Treatment and Costs - Village Hall Meeting

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.


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.  

Public Input

We have summarised input as best we can.

  • It's time for council to finally say no to this. With costs +/-30%, it will go up, not down. It's time to say to the Province that requirements cannot be met - do something else and tell the Province to sue us if they don't like it.
  • You knew this was coming, how much money was set aside for this since 1999? There are alternatives to mega-spending. For those on fixed incomes, $1200 extra a year is way out of my grasp. What's happened to money left over from last year's snow removal? Where is all the money going to that you guys have.
  • Technology for nutrient treatment has changed a lot in the past few years and there are more suitable options. We own a home and rental home, so the impact is doubled. If we have to go ahead, can we extend the amortisation over longer than 30 years.
    • 20 years is normal for the Regional District, 30 was a stretch. Extending longer would give risks in such a long process.  
  • What is PPP?
    • Public Private Partnership (PPP) model means that the design / build / financing / operating / maintaining is done by a private sector group for 30 years. The two new hospitals are being done under this model, with hundreds of pages of performance metrics involving penalties and rewards for under and over performance. 
  • We just bought a house here, this is not the only tax increase you are contemplating, roads, water, sewer. Where is the province on this? They made the requirements, they gave the shellfish leases. Who's going to buy a house here? $3000 tax increases. Recreation budget is too high. Need to do a better job managing taxes that you do get. If we move we're going to lose money on our houses too. 
  • We pay a lot of taxes already and I don't think anyone wants to pay anymore. It would be wise to stop expansion until we get the sewer problem sorted out. We are not going to get value for money, there will be huge cost over-runs. Let's get our own system up and working at reasonable cost. 
  • I have read and watched movies and documentaries on every P3 project you can find and I say don't, ever, go for a P3 project. We discussed sewer and storm drains way back before 1999 and nothing was ever done. I talked to several mayors and asked why, why wasn't storm drains separated from sewage system, should have been done a long time ago because most of our system has the storm and sewer combined.  As a senior, I have a very good chance of not being able to keep my house - but how am I going to sell it - a lot of the properties around me are not even considered livable. All the costs keep going up but nothing ever seems to change. 
  • Why is payment per unit not usage? We should pay for how much we use to encourage conservation. People were able to reduce water consumption by 30% over the summer, given time people could also reduce the amount of waste they produce. Some sewage systems are designed for certain minimum flows, we don't want to commit to having to fill it up. Should wait to see how funding issues shake out with the new government. 
  • We can't afford to pay, especially with many people in Cumbelrand on fixed incomes, where is the extra money going to come from? We need to find extra money somewhere else, the Federal or Provincal government. With PPP, they are making the money and we are paying.
  • The Village's voice and ideas can be completely put aside - the standing committee has 6 seats, Cumberland only has 2. How does that influence the decision. I'd love us to have a system we could be proud of, something innovative but this is a very standard solution.
  • There is no such place as 'away', we should create solutions that take care of the problem at source. As a village, the stuff we can do with people's participation here is amazing, we could do greywater capture, rainwater capture, bioabsorbtion of phosphates. 
  • Clearly not a lot of support for this plan - what happens if we say no. What other options have been looked at?
    • We go back to forming a committee
  • We should have a referendum on this
  • The problem came from the Trilogy development amendments in 2008. 
  • I walk by Maple Creek - we call it shit creek - every day and we do need to do something but this is not it, we need to do it differently, not the 'corporate way' which is the suggestion here. 


0 # Kathy Duperron 2015-11-03 11:40
I agree with the speaker who warned that we should avoid any participation with a PPP. I think it was the ruination of the hospitals on the mainland whose food comes from Calgary. The village signing up with a private partner would be akin to agreements Canada signs with the U.S. The benefits are very skewed. I would also hope, as some suggested, that we could come up with a more local plan, including separating grey water from sewage. But I fear the costs will be very high whatever we do.
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