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Joint installation of sewer, gas line predicted

By Shannon Moneo for the Sooke News Mirror, November 13, 2002

Last Wednesday a Centra Gas spokesperson gave Sooke Rotarians the scoop on not one but two new Sooke utilities, the natural gas pipeline and the sewer system.

"The sewer project is going ahead," Paul Madsen predicted.

In fact, once the main 25-km, 4-inch steel transmission line is finished by September 2003, Madsen said the second phase - the natural gas distribution system - will be installed in the same ditch as the sewer line.

The sewer line would be put in first at a depth of about six to eight feet, Madsen said. Backfill will be added to the two-foot level and then the natural gas plastic pipe will be laid.

Madsen said the challenge will be doing both at the same time. Nothing drives people more crazy than seeing the pavement dug up for one job and then a month later the same spot is smashed again for a second go-round.

"We want to make sure they marry up at the same time," Madsen said.

Sooke Mayor Ed Macgregor said Edmonton-based Epcor Water Services, the company the municipality picked to build and operate Sooke’s sewage system, has been in discussion with Centra Gas.

But there’s more confidence about natural gas serving Sooke, Macgregor said, than the sewage system, which is dependent upon a federal-provincial infrastructure grant.

"We can’t say with certainty there’ll be a sewer system." But Macgregor also hopes the two projects coincide.

Centra Gas is still waiting for provincial government approvals and an operating agreement with the District of Sooke has to be signed.

When Centra, which has been functioning in the black, starts to make money, it will pay franchise fees to the municipality, one of the items under discussion with the district.

"In the long term it will benefit the district," Madsen said. In return for the lucre, Centra will enjoy a monopoly situation in Sooke.

Macgregor said the franchise fee is standard, similar to other utilities like hydro and telephone.

He expects the money to go into general revenue under the utility category.

The annual payment should grow under the 10-year timeframe Centra has set to service the Sooke area.

The division of B.C. Gas expects to have 170 new customers by the end of year one hooked up to gas via 10 km of pipe. The six Sooke schools and the SEAPARC Leisure Complex will be the biggest gas consumers. If the publicly-funded bodies would not have agreed to convert, Centra Gas would have deep-sixed the project.

By the end of year five, Madsen anticipates 700 natural gas users and by year 10 there should be 1,200 clients and 38 km of pipe.

Madsen added there may be some potential for serving customers along the Galloping Goose (which is being used as the transmission route). And the proposed Sun River Estates mega-housing development has piqued Centra’s interest.

The total project is estimated to cost $6.5 million.

The distribution site has been changed from Sooke River and Sooke Roads to Woodlands and Sooke Roads, which is east of Saseenos elementary, the first school along the route.

Earlier discussions concerning the parallel installation of a fibre optics line have stalled, Madsen said. "Fibre optics is not buoyant right now," he said, referring to the downturn in the communications/high-tech sector.

But the potential still exists for the technically feasible endeavour, adding that Centra’s parent company, B.C. Gas, a utility-provider, may consider installing in fibre optics.

"Nobody wants to go back in two years to do it," Madsen said.

One other line threatened by the pipeline could be light-rail transit to Sooke.

"Certainly light rail cannot be built above the gas line," Madsen said.

But because the Galloping Goose right-of-way affords a 100-foot width, the possibility of a transportation link still exists.



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