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While many people spent the summer enjoying the beauty of Baynes Sound, the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD)’s south region liquid waste management plan (LWMP) project team spent the sunny days finding ways to protect it by moving the south sewer project (SSP) forward.
In March of this year the LWMP public and technical advisory committees (TAC and PAC) recommended a combined outfall off Cape Lazo as the preferred solution. This was subsequently supported by the LWMP steering committee and K’ómoks First Nation (KFN). While the SSP team had already been busy investigating ways to reduce project costs, these efforts became the primary focus in May when the Village of Cumberland voted not to support the LWMP preferred solution without amendments that would provide a reduction in costs to their property owners.
Options for reducing costs reviewed over the summer included possible new partnerships or service options with the Comox Valley sewage service as well as new and existing grant funding opportunities.
Like many other municipalities challenged with the costs of developing critical infrastructure projects, the SSP team also advanced its review of a public-private partnership (P3) as a means to deliver this new service in a cost-effective way. PPP Canada (a Crown corporation dedicated to promoting P3s) is considering screening the SSP into its next round of grant funding in late October 2015. If project partners are successful, PPP Canada funding could reduce the capital project cost by 25 per cent ($16.5 million) and significantly reduce the cost of hook-up to residents in the area.
An early analysis suggests the SSP could be a good fit for a P3 project. The CVRD and Village of Cumberland are considering now whether to continue pursuing this as an option. The public sector would retain ownership of the infrastructure.
The next open house will be held this winter. Watch for a new mail out and notices to let you know when and where that event will be held. We look forward to keeping you informed as new progress is made on this important community project!
SOUTH SEWER PROJECT UPDATE
Issue #8 - FALL 2015
An update on wastewater management initiatives for Royston and Union Bay from the south sewer project team.
Reducing Costs Key Focus for South Sewer Project Team
You can share your thoughts on your own time with the CVRD’s online consultation tool: www.placespeak.com/southregionlwmp. Residents in the area can sign up and join discussions, post comments, vote in polls and read the latest updates. Questions? Email southsewerproject@comoxvalleyrd.ca
P3 and What it Means
An early analysis completed by provincial Crown corporation Partnerships BC on behalf of the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) suggests the south sewer project (SSP) could be a good fit for a public-private partnership (P3). The analysis is at an early stage in the review process by PPP Canada, an organization that assists in coordinating P3 partnerships by providing expert support and offering grant funding.
What does this mean to residents in the area?

Lower costs: If approved by local partners and successful in the PPP Canada process, 25 per cent of the capital costs could be paid for by PPP Canada. Early estimates show that could reduce the hook-up cost for Royston/Union Bay residents by approximately $10,000 per connection.

Reduced risk: Highly competitive design/construction operations process that transfers risks from local government to a private sector contractor and ensures stability of long term operations and maintenance costs.
The PPP Canada process is an extensive one and the CVRD is still at an information-gathering stage. While the preliminary analysis indicates a potential positive opportunity for this project, PPP Canada will have to review the content and other factors and determine whether to screen the CVRD’s project into the next round of funding. That will be decided by the end of October.
There are often many questions from the public about P3s – to address those, the SSP team has produced a Q&A that is posted to the south region LWMP webpage: www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/southregionlwmp - under “How to Keep Informed”. Copies are also available at the project office, or by email.
Update on Siting Options for New Treatment Plant
The early stages of assessing potential locations for the new treatment plant and three pump stations required for the SSP is underway.
Determining the location for a treatment facility is a critical component of the planning process. Among the factors considered are technical considerations, location, geography, availability, access and community input. It’s expected a shortlist will be brought to the community at the next open house event this winter.
While the treatment facility will be somewhere central, the pump stations will be at low areas, just above the foreshore, likely on Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure right-of-ways. There will be three in total – one in each of the south region communities included as part of the first stages of construction: Union Bay, Kilmarnock and Royston.
Pump stations are small in footprint and have very limited above-ground infrastructure. A good example is one installed at Millard Drive (photo to right), which is similar in size to what will be needed for the south sewer project.
Residents are encouraged to share initial comments, questions or concerns by emailing southsewer@comoxvalleyrd.ca, by phoning 250-871-6100 or by dropping in during open office hours, each Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m.
VILLAGE RECEIVES FUNDS FOR PIPES
While the SSP involves sharing some wastewater infrastructure, each participant community also needs to work on its own collection systems. Earlier this summer, the Village of Cumberland received funding from the province that will help it tackle important collection system work needed in its community. It’s great to see our partners at the village of Cumberland receive this important grant that could help them participate in the south sewer project. To read the news release from the village, visit: http://bit.ly/cmbldfunds
You Ask, We Answer
Has the regional district looked at lower cost alternatives to a community sewer system?
While the investment for a community wastewater system is a big one, it was selected by the CVRD LWMP process as the most cost effective and environmentally responsible way to manage south region wastewater. New on-site wastewater treatment systems (septic systems) can be very costly, depending on the property and technology needs. For many in the area, increasingly stringent regulations mean that only highly expensive type 3 treatment systems can be accommodated on the property. Ongoing maintenance (to the standards that will be required without a community system) is also pricey. Recognizing the significant price-tag, the project team is continuing to look for grant and partnership opportunities that could reduce the cost overall.
Will the discussion regarding a Kensington Island Properties (KIP) and Union Bay Improvement District (UBID) water agreement impact the south sewer project (SSP)?
Community wastewater collection and treatment systems are distinct from drinking water infrastructure and service. While both the UBID and KIP are being kept informed of the progress on the south region LWMP and SSP, the current discussions regarding a water agreement between the two parties will not have an impact on the CVRD’s project. The SSP will proceed regardless of whether the KIP development moves forward.
Will we get to vote on this proposal, and if so, when?
The LWMP process, which is currently underway for the Royston/Union Bay area, can serve as an authorizing mechanism for the south sewer project. This is why the public consultation process and your engagement through this planning stage is so important. If the province approves the LWMP, it can act in lieu of a referendum or vote and allow the CVRD to establish services and borrow funds. While the LWMP can act in lieu of a referendum, it also doesn’t preclude a vote – and the Ministry of Environment and/or CVRD board will ultimately decide whether a referendum is needed based on feedback through engagement with the community.
WHAT’S THIS ALL ABOUT: PROJECT BACKGROUND
For many years, the CVRD and residents of the Royston/Union Bay communities have discussed the need for improved wastewater treatment. Those discussions have developed into a partnership with the Village of Cumberland and KFN intended to find an effective solution to reducing the impacts of failing on-site sewage systems and Cumberland’s lagoon effluent on Baynes Sound and surrounding area.
In 2013, the partners received a $15-million Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) strategic priorities fund grant towards their proposed wastewater solution: the SSP. Now, the CVRD is undertaking a LWMP to determine what the best solution is for wastewater management in the south region. If the selected option meets the parameters of the SSP, the CVRD will work together with Cumberland to complete final planning stages which would lead to construction of a wastewater treatment facility to service Royston, Union Bay and Cumberland.
Learn More - Contact Us
A webpage, phone line and email have been established for this project:
www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/southsewer 250-871-6100 ext. 21
southsewer@comoxvalleyrd.ca
The project office is open to the public: Thursdays: 12 to 4 pm
3843 Livingstone Road
If you would prefer to receive this newsletter by email, send your request to southsewer@comoxvalleyrd.ca
Follow the CVRD on social media for ongoing updates about regional district activity:
@comoxvalleyrd
About this newsletter
This newsletter is issued by the Comox Valley Regional District. Its goal is to provide updates on wastewater management solutions in the south region.
This newsletter is published quarterly (or as updates arise) and is distributed to property owners in the Baynes Sound area, posted online at
www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/southsewer and available via e-mail on request. Please send comments and questions to the south sewer project team at
southsewer@comoxvalleyrd.ca or:
Comox Valley Regional District
600 Comox Road
Courtenay, BC V9N 3P6
Save paper and postage and get the news faster – If you’re able to and would prefer to receive this newsletter by email, just send us a note at southsewer@comoxvalleyrd.ca If you’re a property owner who lives out of town or who has general delivery mail, this is a great option to stay on top of important news.
What’s Next

The Village of Cumberland and the CVRD’s south sewer select committee will review the Cape Lazo combined outfall and make a decision about pursuing the PPP Canada funding, determining how the project will move forward.

A final open house will be held for the LWMP and siting considerations. The open house will be held this winter.

Once a scenario and approach are agreed to by all partners, the final work on the LWMP will be completed and the combined stage one and two LWMP submitted to the province for review/consideration.