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Sooke Council interested in various items at UBCM
by Robin Wark for the Sooke News Mirror September 24, 2003

Monday's announcement regarding policing costs for unincorporated areas and municipalities under 5,000 people was expected to be the hot topic at the Union of BC Municipalities annual convention in Vancouver.

The announcement, holding off on the plan until 2007, doesn't affect the District of Sooke except for the boundary restructure study, Mayor Janet Evans said in an interview last Friday. But Evans said herself, district staff and councillors will be busy as there are plenty of others issues affecting the municipality discussed at the convention, which draws about 1,200 local politicians.

One of the items Evans is interested in is lobbying Rick Thorpe, Minister of Competition, Science and Enterprise, for funding of a road connecting Grant Road to Throup Road. She feels this secondary artery, parallel to Sooke Road, is needed as the community grows. Evans acknowledges Sooke has already received an $11.6 million Canada-B.C. Infrastructure grant for its proposed community sewer project. However, she thinks the two go hand-in-hand."When sewers come, development will come and the roads will be needed."

Thorpe's ministry is one of the ones involved in the grant program. Coun. Lorna Barry said the community charter and health concerns are items she is interested in at UBCM. She said herself and Coun. George OBriain will be attending a session on health care and its funding. Barry also is expected to present Sooke's flag to the UBCM. The flag was unveiled in the community last fall after a coat of arms was developed.

Barry and Evans both said the convention allows politicians and staff to make connections with those involved in the provincial government and other communities. Barry feels these connections can help Sooke in the future. Evans also said a variety of ideas are discussed and she finds the convention energizing. "I always come back gung-ho."

It will be Coun. John Stephen's first UBCM visit and he was looking forward to it. "I want to come home with a sense of belonging to an organization bigger than South Vancouver Island," Stephen said in a Friday interview. "I want to see how we can call upon and be helped by UBCM."

Trip, treatment discussion coming

While its not on the UBCM's official agenda, Evans, Barry, Stephen and Coun. Marcus Farmer all said a highlight of the weeklong stay in Vancouver is expected to be a Thursday tour of the Kent wastewater plant. Some councillors have visited before, but Evans said it is good for the new members of council to see how a secondary treatment plant works.

When council returns from UBCM, treatment is expected to be a major topic of discussion.

On Monday a representative of Associated Engineering will present a report to council comparing the costs and environmental implications between secondary treatment with disinfection and two different types of tertiary treatment. In secondary treatment, which is what Sooke's first council proposed, floating and settleable solids and about 90 per cent of the oxygen-demanding substances and suspended solids are removed. Tertiary treatment, as the name implies, goes a step further and takes such elements as phosphorus and nitrogen out of the water.

Stephen has said he would like to see tertiary treatment carefully examined as an option for Sooke. However, he said Friday it would have to be affordable.

Evans said in an ideal world she'd like to see tertiary treatment as well but said council is striving to make the $17.4 million project as affordable for residents as possible. She said, in a Friday interview, she felt, at this time, secondary treatment is the most affordable method for Sooke.

A special meeting is set for Oct. 6 in which council is expected to provide direction to district staff on level of treatment, connection cost administration, connection deadlines and treatment plant site location.

Answers are coming

The News Mirror has received a number of letters asking for council to provide answers to questions posed by the public about the sewer system at a pair of early July meetings.

Evans said she knows she said at those meetings answers would be coming in early September, but certain things have to be done in order for information to be available.

The cost of the system to residents depends partly on how many properties outside the proposed sewer system service area will be served. Property owners outside the area had until Monday to confirm that they wanted to be included in the system. They now have to provide a letter of credit by Oct. 1. Evans said staff will now examine if area pipes running to the properties that want in would be good candidates to be "in-fill" areas.

On Oct. 20 council will meet as a committee of the whole to discuss issues associated with the system. An open house on the project is slated for Nov. 3 and technical presentations will be made Nov. 4. If all goes according to a timetable, council authorized voters in the specified area will be heading to the polls Dec. 13.

District hold off on hiring

If the system passes, Sooke will move ahead with hiring an engineering technologist. The district advertised for the position in June but administrator Tom Day said it opted to hold off on filling the position until the vote.

The administrator said the district didn't want to disrupt someone's life and have them move here and then if the vote failed there would be the possibility there isn't enough work to sustain the position. Day said between 30 and 40 applications were received for the job, which has a salary in the range of $55,000 per year plus benefits. Day said a letter was sent to short-listed applicants explaining the situation.



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