Phone, Fax, Email, and Write to:
Local and Municipal Government
- Sooke Mayor and Council, at 2208 Otter Point Road, Sooke BC, V0S 1N0.
General Phone 642-1634 and FAX 642-0541
Send Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
See our WRATH Webpage for Mayor and Council List of individual names, home phone numbers, and emails.
- Chair of Capital Regional District Board of Directors,
at Municipal Hall, 2167 Oak Bay Avenue, Victoria BC, V8R 1G2
Email Chris Causton at email@example.com
Hall Telephone 250-598-3311, Home Telephone 250-595-4543, Fax 250-598-9108
Sooke Mirror and Times Colonist
- Sooke Mirror News Paper,
at 6711 Eustace Road, Sooke BC, V0S 1N0.
Email Sooke News Mirror at firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone 250-642-5752, Fax 250-642-4767
Website for Sooke News Mirror at www.sookenewsmirror.com
- Victoria Times Colonist Paper,
at Box 300, Victoria BC, V8W 2N4.
Email Times Colonist [No attachments please] at email@example.com
Premier of BC
at Room 156, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, BC, V8V 1X4
Email Gordon Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone 250-387-1715, Fax 250-387-0087
Web Page for Gordon Campbell at www.legis.gov.bc.ca/mla/37thparl/campbell.htm
Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection,
at Room 124, Parliament Buildings, Victoria BC, V8V 1X4
Email Joyce Murray at Joyce.Murray.email@example.com
Telephone 250-387-1187, Fax 250-387-1356
Web Page for Joyce Murray at www.legis.gov.bc.ca/37thparl/murray.htm
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries,
John van Dogen
Room 137, Parliament Buildings, Victoria BC, V8V 1X4
Email John van Dongen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone 250-387-1023, Fax 250-387-1522
Web Page for John van Dongen at www.legis.gov.bc.ca/mla/37thparl/vandongen.htm
Local MLA Brian Kerr for Malahat-Juan de Fuca
at 102A, 814 Goldstream Avenue, Victoria, BC, V9B 2X7
Email Brian Kerr at email@example.com
Telephone 250-391-2831, Fax 250-391-2844
Web Page for Brian Kerr at www.legis.gov.bc.ca/mla/37thparl/kerr.htm
Leader of the Green Party of BC
at PO Box 3026, Vancouver BC, V6B 3X5
Email Adriane Carr firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone 604-436-1437, Toll Free 1-888-GREENVOTE, Fax 604-436-1438
Web Page for Adriane Carr at www.greenparty.bc.ca
- Prime Minister Jean Chretien,
at 80 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A2
Email Jean Chretien at email@example.com
Website for Prime Minister Jean Chretien at www.pm.gc.ca
Minister of Environment Canada,
at 922 View Street, Victoria BC, V8V 3L5.
Email David Anderson, MP at firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone 250-363-3600, Fax 250-363-8422
Website for David Anderson, MP at www.DavidAndersonMP.Com
Minster of Fisheries and Oceans Canada,
at Room 549-D, Centre Block, House of Comons, Ottawa Ontario, K1A 0A6
Email Robert Thibault, MP at email@example.com
Telephone 613-995-5711, Fax 613-996-9857
- Juan de Fuca Region,
Dr. Keith Martin, MP
at 2820-B Jacklin Road, Victoria BC, V9B 3X9.
Email Dr. Keith Martin, MP at firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone 250-474-6505, Fax 250-474-5322
Website for Dr. Keith Martin, MP at www.keithmartin.org
At last Monday night's council meeting Coun. John Stephen made a valiant attempt, supported by two other councillors, to ensure our community would have the ultimate sewage treatment installed.
Sadly, council voted four to three for Sooke installing a secondary treatment plant, a move that can only be a stop gap solution and will inevitably require upgrading in the future. The approved installation does meet and exceed, in some degree, the requirements of the approving authority.
Coun. Stephen made an excellent, albeit short, explanation of an alternative for a better and cleaner effluent result at no additional cost to the lesser, and majority approved solution.
Other concerns were expressed by the public on related matters but the four councillors left over from the first Sooke council would not budget. If the referendum properly describes all alternatives only then can our citizens be truly informed.
The first of a series of sewer bulletins, as issued by the administration of spin and obfuscation, raises many more questions than provide answers.
The extra capital costs of $2.5 million, covered by letters of credit for the extension of sewer boundaries, are to be accepted without a bylaw in place or at minimum a council initiative? Other than Sunriver will this one time contribution free the future property owners of all payment obligations for the next 20 years?
By now the municipal finance authority must have given an indication as to the repayment amount annually over 20 years for the $6.2 million, why not inform the affected public of about 1,800 households of this and the expected ancillary costs?
The definite concerns about this important project stem from the paucity and opaqueness of accessible, real information. Relatively few people have access to the district's Internet Web site and embarrassingly few questions can actually be answered by the mayor and administration.
So bulletin No. 1 answers were given and more unanswered questions were raised. The disdain for the public is also demonstrated by misspelling and the obvious inability by staff to proofread.
Sooke council continues to lose credibility
Letter by Gail Hall to the Sooke News Mirror October 8, 2003
Sooke council and staff continue to support decisions which leave their credibility in tatters.
Not wishing to turn over too many ancient stones, four recent issues come to mind.
First, there is the application for an apartment/assisted living complex on Goodmere Road behind Village Markets. Never mind that it contravenes both the Official Community Plan and the Harbour and Basin Plan, but more importantly perhaps, it should be considered in terms of today's argument as to why sewers are necessary.
This application has received third reading with an on-site treatment plant and field deemed acceptable to council and staff in the event that sewers do not happen.
If an on-site treatment plant is acceptable so close to the harbour, how can residents with such plants be forced to disconnect and hook up to the sewer?
Second, council and staff had no objection to a subdivision application to create an additional lot at the end of Possession Point Road with the building setback from the harbour reduced from 15m to 7.5m. The new residence will be served by a septic tank and field on a lot of 1,300 square metres. This was accepted by all members of council.
However, should you happen to land in the specified area, even if you reside miles from the harbour, your septic tank or treatment plant and field will be deemed unacceptable and you will be required to hook up to the sewers.
Double standard? You bet!
Third, remember the two informational meetings held in July, when the public was urged to come and present their questions on the sewer proposal. Mayor Evans told the first meeting that all questions would be recorded to be answered in September. Question after question was met with stony silence. It was an embarrassing waste of time.
In September we were told that those who had asked the questions would have answers mailed to them. Now we understand that answers will not be forthcoming at all. The assumption is either that council does not have the answers, or that there is no wish to share them with the public.
And finally there is that wonderful survey for which we paid $8,500, and which the research group stated was "to be very beneficial to the district as it will assist in identifying groups and areas of strong support and opposition within the targeted community."
The public has received a brief outline of survey results. However, the real meat of the survey is for the eyes and ears of council and staff alone. Even though residents gave their time and privacy to this thing, they will be unable to study the resulting "spin." As stated in the proposal "Pollara will be available to consult on the development of materials that are to be shared with the media."
To date the process has been a public relations disaster. To put a new spin on an old adage, you can lead the people to the polls but you can't make them vote "Yes."
Not all need to be removed
Letter by Bruce Lemire-Elmore to the Sooke News Mirror October 8, 2003
I admire the generosity and environmental concern of Ken Pungente, who has stated his willingness to contribute to tertiary treatment for Sooke's proposed sewer plant. He has always shown himself to be a public-spirited citizen.
But before he puts up earnest money, he would do well to ask himself just which particular contaminants he is concerned about.
The independent Forgie report confirmed what had been stated in the Stantec proposal: that the proposed secondary treatment plus UV disinfection will result in concentrations of each of sewage contaminants at the point of critical measurement (the "initial dilution zone") lower than what occurs naturally in our seawater. And so, putting the effluent through tertiary treatment would be equivalent to drawing up seawater into the treatment plant, treating it, then putting it back into the ocean. Some might consider this a valuable way to "clean up the ocean", but to me it seems to be gilding the lily.
Sooke has a planner; he’s smart; let him do his job.
Letter by Herb Haldane to the Sooke News Mirror October 1, 2003
In case people haven't heard some time ago we hired a town planner.
This person is paid money by the community to make recommendations to council on how to set up a town in the most productive way possible. This person has spent many years in university to study urban planning and its development. These people are trained from other experts that have built and studied in every city and town ever built. So the reason little towns like ours hire one of these people so we don't have to flounder around and make a whole bunch of mistakes during a trial and error process.
So my problem is why are we making it so difficult to move forward as a community? We have our expert. We pay him money, therefore shouldn't we listen to him?
Do we want WRATH (Worried Residents Against Tax Hikes) recommendations to dominate our meetings? Please, let's move in the direction that our planner's recommendations take us.
Oh, yeah, by the way his name is Frank Limshue and he is really smart.
Estimates are not enough, concrete answers needed
Letter by C. McInnes to the Sooke News Mirror October 1, 2003
Hooray for Tia Leschke's letter in Oct. 24's Sooke News Mirror. As a new owner of a property in the designated sewer area I too am very perturbed by the sparse information that has been provided to us.
I took note of the approximate quotes for hookups and was really incensed by the blasé attitude of our local council in supporting these figures. Would you go out and purchase a new car if you were told by the salesperson that it might be in the neighbourhood of between $20,000 and $40,000? I think not.
Most consumers would like a concrete dollar figure, but alas we designated sewer people don't have that ability as we are "blown-off" time and time again with our serious questions as to hookup costs, payment schedules, timelines, connection fees, sewer management regarding the outfall and effluent condition, forced hookups and last but most serious, each and everyone of us homeowner's yearly taxes going UP by approximately $650.
Why should we, the chosen few, pay for all of Sooke? I hear time and time again that the sewers will bring in more benefits to the residents of Sooke, which tells me that every person living in Sooke should be paying for the upcoming sewers even if they are not connected at this time! We are all benefiting, or so the mayor and council stipulate - remember that.
For all of you who live on the outside of the designated area I gather happiness reigns in your households as you don't have to be pressured into paying extra for any of the above - is that fair?
Yes, I do feel that sewers are the way to go if we are to grow as a municipality but what I'm against is that only about 800 people are paying for everyone who is a Sooke resident and being forced to do just that.
Expanding referendum to entire district is fair way to go
Letter by J. Smith to the Sooke News Mirror October 1, 2003
It is my understanding, based on numerous questions put to and answered by helpful District of Sooke staff this past week, that the current plan considered by council is for Sooke's capital cost portion of the sewer system - a whopping $400 of the so-called "annual user fee" - to be paid by a parcel tax levied on property owners in the proposed service area (re: "Those paying most can't vote," Sooke News Mirror, Sept. 24).
A parcel tax is the same tax per property, regardless of its value, size, or purpose. Capital costs for businesses with larger sewage requirements are considerably more for on-site sewage treatment facilities than single family homeowners who need much smaller and simpler systems.
But under Sooke's proposed sewerage system, all users pay an equal share of the capital cost, regardless of the type of property. This means that single family homeowners are unintentionally subsidizing the costs of the larger businesses; in effect, corporate citizens are paying less, not more.
If a general property tax were used instead to pay our municipal government's share of the infrastructure improvement for our city, businesses in the town core who need and benefit most from sewers would pay 6.42 per cent more per $1,000 assessed value than single family homeowners for the capital costs facilitating Sooke's anticipated growth. And with a general property tax, the burden on Broom Hill owners included in the extended area for the purpose of reducing costs to the town core property owners (Stantec's Village Sewerage Study 2001 - Addendum to Technical report, p. 24) and those with lower incomes will perhaps be more bearable, keeping in mind that our connection fees and annual user charges (justifiably based on property type and volume of waste to be handled) will not be shared outside the service area.
Other options that may be explored include a sewer surcharge on new development to help reduce the capital cost debt load and an environmental levy for individual and corporate citizens with a past history of non-compliance in sewage handling, possibly the major factor in high fecal coliform counts in CRD stormwater sampling. And rather than eliminating it, we should be expanding the scope of the referendum to include the whole district to determine if further development is still desired by the majority of Sooke citizens when we are all expected to help pay for it. Business owners who reside in the district will then get their fair say along with the rest of us - one vote per resident - the way the law intended.
Taxpayers need timely answers on proposed sewer system
By Glen Dickie to Sooke News Mirror September 24, 2003
I am relieved to read that other taxpayers (Sooke News Mirror, Sept. 17) are also concerned about the lack of response to questions by taxpayers about the proposed sewer.
Municipal staff requested (which our council has endorsed) a specific sewer related meeting to hear taxpayers' concerns. In fact, I now fear the "benefits of a sewer outfall" propaganda will only heat up again.
Remember, there is a lot of experience to this process of manipulating communities into having sewers. There are huge dollars to be made and money can dictate if we are caught snoozing.
Unfortunately, our council hasn't responded by providing the answers to these justified questions. Why proceed any further without the answers? Is it because they don't like the questions and concerns which council itself solicited?
I am not against having sewers. What I don't agree with is the apparent open disregard of answering taxpayers' questions in a timely manner. Council has a responsibility to ensure this process is transparent, even if it is not popular with municipal staff, some fellow councillors or Sooke's business community. Is an outfall the best choice? Should a small number of residential taxpayers be footing the bill for something that is being "sold" as a benefit to all of Sooke? Why doesn't all of Sooke pay for it then?
Just because Mayor Evans has offered so-called "payment options": does it make it right that residents with a good septic system be forced to pay for something they do not need? Should many of these residents who cannot afford all the costs involved (existing septic system disconnection fees, hook-up fees in the thousands of dollars, tax increases of $600 per year, maintenance fees and higher density development in their residential neighbourhoods) be subjected to "forced" hook-ups? What will happen to residents when they must sell their homes due to these costs? I have spoken to Realtors who say sewers will not increase the value of a residential home. Dollars and sense, my family cannot afford the associated costs, plain and simple. What will happen to us?
Apathy is a dangerous symptom of a confused an uninformed community. Ask your community for immediate answers to taxpayer questions and make the answers public. Many of us have the same questions and a public disclosure would serve all affected.
Transparency, transparency and more transparency is key. Demand it, it is your right as a taxpayer.
Core should not be paying for entire sewer system
By Tia Leschke to the Sooke News Mirror September 24, 2003
A couple of months ago I wrote to this paper wondering why only the people in the specified sewer area were going to have to pay for a project that supposedly will benefit all of Sooke. I copied my letter to the mayor and all council members, using the e-mail addresses I found on the District of Sooke Web site. At this time I have not received a reply from any of them.
As long as only the people in the sewer district are going to be saddled with the costs, I will not be voting in favour of the plan.
Public needs information on proposed sewer system
Letter by Anita Voss to the Sooke News Mirror September 17, 2003
In several editorials the Sooke News Mirror urges the public to get needed information about the proposed sewer system.
However, this simple demand seems to be running into obstacles. Firstly each household was promised individual information about hook up, costs and so on as early as about 2001. Nothing up to this moment. People are in limbo and worried about their individual costs.
A series of questions were asked by numerous residents in a council meeting dedicated entirely to the sewer question on July 7. Eight were not answered, but answers were promised by September by the mayor. According to Sooke News Sept. 10, these answers are still outstanding. Instead we have now a costly survey, asking questions, so "that council gets a general sense how those in the service area feel."
Council and staff should have a "general sense" and know by now what people want: detailed information about all aspects of the proposed sewer from council to the public and not the other way around. As questions of concerned residents are mostly asked in public meetings information should be relayed in public meetings and not in letters to single persons. Neighbourhood representatives won't do because it just adds another layer of semi-officials to cloud the issues.
Civil servants from the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services - which eventually pays part of the grant that is only allocated now - made it abundantly clear that there has to be sufficient public consultation and information. Council and staff should listen.
Septic tanks can be a nightmare for residents
Letter by Barb White to the Sooke News Mirror September 17, 2003
Kudos to Ted Davies for his letter entitled, "Sewer benefits swamp Gardner's neighbours" (News Mirror, Aug. 27). I would like to reinforce his points with my first-hand experience with a costly, septic system nightmare.
We moved into our current residence on Talc Place, in Broom Hill, 14 years ago. I spent the next four years working very hard on my yard and garden, when a serious problem arose with our septic system. Having come from Ontario, I had neither heard of septic systems, nor did I have any idea of the devastation and cost if something went wrong. We were told that our entire back yard would have to be dug up, and our system replaced. We were also told that the $13,000 price tag would have to be paid up-front; therefore, we had to re-mortgage our home.
After the installation, there was nothing left in the yard but pipes, pumps and tanks. We could not enjoy the space for many years. Since then, we have encountered further difficulties, including digging up sections of the yard repeatedly to install an extra tank and new pumps, not to mention the frequent drainage costs. Currently, I can only do two loads of laundry a day for a household of six. The costs continue to mount as we have now spent over $15,000 for the privilege of owning a house with a septic system. Every time I walk out my back door to hang up my clothes and smell something foul (which is often), I shudder, wondering if it is coming from my yard or my neighbours.
To those people who have been arguing against the new sewer system, heed my warning. My septic system worked fine at one time too, but then my entire yard had to be dug up at a cost of 10s of 1,000s of dollars. Whether your system works or not, how many of you are prepared to spend $15,000 up front when something inevitably goes wrong? If you own a home with a failing system, your property value plummets and your investment disappears. All Broom Hill residents are in jeopardy of facing a similar fate at some point; therefore, I encourage all residents to vote yes for a new sewer system before you have your own septic nightmare to tell.
[So, who is responsible for the design and installation of faulty septic systems?]
We need to vote ‘yes’ to advance Sooke
Letter by Martha Moore to the Sooke News Mirror September 17, 2003
In the early days of Sooke people pulled together giving true meaning to the slogan "Sooke looks after its own" and the Sooke Community Association was formed. They celebrated the growth of our community by creating All Sooke Day and money raised helped build the community hall. Fundraising toward the hall came from continuing All Sooke Day. The community association played a major part in the development of a very small community to what we have today.
We now have an elected mayor and council whose vision is for the future of Sooke. Let's give them support by attending meetings, asking questions that show courtesy for all and vote on issues.
Our previous or present council would not have applied for sewer funding if it was not a major step for the betterment of Sooke. Advantages include long-term care for seniors, a Laundromat to promote tourism, industry thus creating employment, and industry and business to help pay the tax load.
Let's say "yes" to the advancement of Sooke.
By Lois Gardner to Sooke News Mirror, September 3, 2003
It’s great that more people are writing in about the sewer issue, as it really needs discussing.
I sincerely apologize to Ted Davies and any other of my neighbours who want, need, and can afford a sewer I sure did not mean to say we are all in the same boat regarding the benefits of it.
Sooke needs the sewer, and I want to vote yes to it, but can’t afford to, because I’m still paying for the 2001 field I’ve got.
Both Mr. Davies’ point of view and mine are valid and appropriate, and it falls to council to work out some way that we can all be fairly treated. The simplest way would be a sliding scale of payment depending on the age of the current septic system, and the number of bedrooms in the dwelling. There are only a few 100 houses in the specified area; it’s not rocket science to create several groups of properties, with different levels of taxation based on use of the system.
Besides fairness to taxpayers, there are other questions that need answering.
- Is the proposed sewer picking up all sources of pollution entering the Harbour and Basin?
- Is a treatment plant with ocean outfall absolutely NOT going to impact fishery, tourism or First Nation? Is there a better option for disposal of waste water?
- Why is a private company a better option than the CRD, to build and operate the treatment plant? EPCOR is not investing any money from the sounds of it, but as a private company they intend to make a profit. Will they be billing residents separately for sewage treatment, and have their hands permanently in our pockets, or will they operate on a fixed contract with the district?
This is not an issue that needs fighting about, it’s simply a case of making it work for everyone, and giving us the details on what the "deal" is, before we vote.
Mayor Evans and her council are a capable and intelligent group, so in spite of all the details they have to deal with, I’m certain they can make this whole thing turn out well.
By Fred E. von Ilberg to Sooke News Mirror, September 3, 2003
On July 7, I submitted to council and administration at the public meeting, a list of questions, which can only be answered by council and administration.
It would appear to date, that none of these questions have been addressed. It is of utmost importance that these questions are answered in full before the telephone survey starts, so that the public in the serviced areas is well informed and can speak to the matter informed and intelligently.
A further submission was addressed to council by another party on July 23, which also appears to go unanswered. Both of these submissions are public documents, forming part of council’s minutes and are available.
I am deeply concerned that no progress is reported to date in public, let alone a reference that these concerns are worked on, nor that answers have been forthcoming in a comprehensive, easily understood format to the affected areas as well as the public at large.
By Gail Hall to Sooke News Mirror, September 3, 2003
The News Mirror of Aug. 27 contained a letter credited to Loretta Acreman.
Mrs. Acreman is entitled to her views and the freedom to express them. I would, however, suggest that she get her facts straight before putting them on paper.
There are no council members included in the membership of Worried Residents Against Tax Hikes (WRATH). To state otherwise and tie the word "corrupt" to any member of the current council is defamatory.
Even if a member of WRATH were to run for office and be elected, there would be no impropriety. We still have the constitutional right to assemble, even as elected officials.
The same edition includes a letter credited to Ted Davies, who makes a comparison between the homeowners’ cost of the sewers and the taxpayers’ cost for the $6 million for the pool. He remarks that the pool costs did not break the bank on his taxes.
He should remember that the $6 million for the pool is being repaid by taxpayers from East Sooke to Port Renfrew and includes all of Sooke, not just the estimated 800 homes or 2,000 residents that will pay for sewers.
(Editor’s note: Hall is a member of WRATH.)
Some sewer survey questions might already be answered
by Lois Gardner to the Sooke News Mirror August 20, 2003
Regarding the $8,500 survey of homeowners in the sewer specified area, it may be too little, too late, but I guess we will see what comes of it. For free, here is what they will probably be hearing on my street:
- My septic field works fine, so I don't need a sewer.
- I will have to dig up half my yard (driveway, basement) to get to the
street - this will cost many thousands of dollars.
- I would like to help the community, but I can't afford the connection, let alone the extra $650 on my taxes every year.
- Give me one good reason why should I vote for something that is going to cost me a lot of money, and which I don't need anyway?
Everybody with stars in their eyes over the 11 million in "free money" have to understand homeowners in the core are not receiving an $11.6 million gift, we are being offered a $6 million dollar debt, and we have all figured this out by now.
If council wants this referendum to go through, there is only one question worth asking, "What would it take to get you to vote yes?" Homeowners have a right to some kind of benefit, incentive, or compensation if, on behalf of the community, we shoulder this level of debt.
Areas outside core should be asked what they want
By Tom Gable to Sooke News Mirror August 20, 2003
With all that is being said and done about sewers, I have one question that I feel needs an answer.
What about the people who are not in the area that is to be surveyed or are in the area where sewers are not slated to be installed? It is fine to say that the core of Sooke and Broomhill are the focus - the need is there. What about the "other parts" of Sooke whose residents aren't even being asked anything?
I live on Whiffen Spit and I want sewers if offered. I think the rest of us should at least be asked the question.
Don’t buy into sewer backer’s clean harbour myth
By Anita Voss, to Sooke News Mirror on August 13, 2003
Proponents of the sewer proposal in its present form flood us with more or less romantic ideas about how the harbour of Sooke will get "cleaned up" and clean enough for shellfish harvesting once the sewer system is in.
These assumptions make it even into the official announcements put in the Sooke News Mirror by District of Sooke staff (Sooke News June, July as "Sewer Information Update"). Here are some sobering facts: The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, DFO, provides maps, showing shellfish closures from the tip of Saanich Peninsula to and including Pedder Bay and explains "areas closed to harvesting of all Bivalve Molluscs due to sewage contamination." Most of these closed areas are serviced by sewers. In addition DFO closed practically all the east side of Vancouver Island to shellfish harvesting due to sanitary contamination. It is difficult to imagine how DFO will treat Sooke Harbour (closed at the present) and Otter Point differently once the outfall pipe is in.
Ultraviolet radiation does not improve things much, because DFO considers all other polluting factors besides bacterial contamination in its decision for closures, especially after inevitable occasional failures of the sewer plant system.
Residents who oppose the sewers are apparently "stuck in the Dark Ages" as recent letters to the editor of this newspaper claim. On the contrary, very few people in Sooke seem to be opposed to "sewers." However, numerous residents, including myself, are deeply worried about the present sewer plan with its secondary treatment and outfall in the Juan de Fuca Strait. Similar secondary treatment plants were built in central Europe at the end of the 19th century, with outfalls into the main water bodies. As a result, by the 1950-60 even large rivers like the Elbe and Rhine were green and brown soups. From then on new various tertiary systems were built and outfalls were not allowed, be it into the sea or into the rivers unless it had drinking water standards. Most water from European sewer plants is recycled now either for drinking water or irrigation.
We need in Sooke a more modern plant than proposed, which would provide tertiary treatment with the effluent of recyclable standards, so that an "outfall " becomes unnecessary.
New attitude needed for sewer system to be a success
Letter by Gail Hall to the Sooke News Mirror, July 23, 2003
Some thoughts left over from the sewer "information" meetings of July 7-8:
Several residents expressed the view that because all of Sooke will benefit from sewers, all of Sooke should pay.
It was a thought I shared, wondering if with an attitude adjustment at the council table, the whole community might indeed get behind the project.
This idea quickly fell victim to some sober second thoughts.
The federal and provincial governments have awarded $11.6 million to the District of Sooke, not to the few who reside in the specified area, but to all of us.
Accordingly, my family donates our share to the sewer project, and feel quite sure that it will cover any benefits which we may gain from the project.
The Sooke News Mirror of July 16 stated that Councillor John Farmer became frustrated during the meeting because many of the questions were being asked by people who do not reside in the specified area.
This is indeed true, and if and when we receive answers to our questions, should we also behave like petulant children because those supplying the answers will be elected officials or staff members, the majority of whom also reside outside the specified area?
For the first time since incorporation, our administration will not be able to railroad a decision through. If the referendum is to succeed, council and staff must accept the public as equal partners, involve them in the process, provide information in a clear and complete manner, and respect that there are differing opinions on this huge initiative.
Council will have to dig their way through a mountain of mistrust, cynicism and fear. It will take a serious attitude adjustment, and a more conciliatory approach than we have witnessed to date.
Councillors Barry, OBriain, Morino and Stephen have put the process in motion by standing up for a referendum. It is a promising beginning.
Gail Hall, Sooke
All Sooke Residents should have to ante up for sewers
By Tia Leschke to the Sooke News Mirror, July 23, 2003
I read in the council information that sewers are going to be a huge benefit to Sooke. Our public health is at risk if we don't build them. The harbour and basin need to be cleaned up to protect fish habitat and recreational values. We need the development of a vibrant and economically sustainable town core. We need a long-term care facility.
My question is, since this appears to benefit all Sooke residents, why are only the poor suckers in the core area being asked to pay for them? Why not all Sooke residents, which would certainly lighten the individual load? I see in another sewer article that only those in the specified area are allowed to vote.
Would that still be the case if the whole community was being asked to foot the bill? It sure doesn't seem fair to me, especially when some of the councillors who are deciding these things won't have to pay because they don't live in the core area.
I have also not seen any explanation as to why everyone in the area must hook up at the same time, as soon as the system is built, even those with brand new or perfectly working systems. If the system was being paid for by the whole community, whether they were hooked up or not, people could hook up either when they could afford it or whenever their septic system was tested and failed, whichever came first. I understand the CRD has plans to require regular testing of septic systems anyway.
‘How Soon’ should be only sewer question
Letter by Herb Haklane to the Sooke News Mirror, July 23, 2003
Well, here we go again debating the sewer question - the money, the environment, our options ...
The money one is easy. We have at least two years before the sewers can be operational. When your roof is worn out or the 1970s shag carpet is too stained, what do we do? We budget for it! Let's be ants here and not grasshoppers.
Then there is the environmental outfall issue that we are concerned about. The harbour at this point is so polluted that shellfish must be treated before you can eat them. The white foam and sludge on the beaches is contaminated from faulty septic systems.
The outfall will be treated and expelled into open ocean at one part per billion. The real environmental question I have is when did you all last attend a Greenpeace meeting or Sierra Club jamboree? Better yet, when did you last buy the pricey cleaner gasoline for your car?
It is nice to be political or environmentally concerned, but lose the double standard.
Our options are these. Install sewers and move forward just like the day electricity was available and running water was embraced. Or stay in the Dark Ages and when your washer breaks down you can go to the creek because the laundry only exists in the real world.
If we all think hard, our only question should be, "How soon can we install it?"
[Methinks that this fallacious Herb has not only gone overboard with dichotomies and erroneous analogies, but it is painfully obvious that Herb also doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about and has no understanding of the true science of the situation. Looks like this uninformed person just got suckered into writing another form letter to the mirror. Maybe he is dazzled by the big bucks……I wonder who is really footing the bill….and who will profit……]
Council move to referendum affirms democratic basics
Letter by George Butcher to the Sooke News Mirror, July 16, 2003
Well, hats off to Councillors Barry, Morino, OBriain, and Stephen for ensuring that there will be a proper vote on the proposed sewer and ocean outfall. In voting down the staff recommendation for the council initiative, they have affirmed the basics of democracy i.e. a secret ballot and one person one vote.
The rigid rejection of a referendum by Councillors Farmer and Mayor Evans in the face of defeat, should not escape public notice. What were they thinking in supporting an odious petition-against-works that gives property owners a weighted vote and corporations a vote? Were they prepared to let CIBC or Chevron run our affairs? Thankfully the majority of councillors thought otherwise.
Grant gives Sooke a chance to be on the leading edge
Letter by Peter Dixon to the Sooke News Mirror, July 16, 2003
Sooke municipality is joyous now that it will receive $11.6 million funded under the Canada-British Columbia Infrastructure Program. The program's first priority is "green" local government infrastructure. The funding is meant to encourage the use of 21st century technologies, new approaches and best practices.
The timing is perfect. The opportunity to be innovative is at hand.
It is now a well known fact that the water supply from the Sooke Lake reservoir is limited.
Not having a sewer system in place, Sooke is in the unique position for a municipality to install an alternate system that addresses the immediate issue of handling its sewage and at the same time reduce water consumption.
It can be done by installing a treatment plant and distribution system designed to reclaim used water for reuse and recycling. The benefits are a reduction in wastewater flows and overall consumption.
It is legal and accepted for industrial, commercial, and institutional applications if the system complies with the Municipal Sewage Regulation (MSR) and building codes.
Imagine this. Start by installing a treatment and collection system designed for water reuse for the core area. Then in the future expand to other outlying areas. Subdivisions are ideal for a small treatment system to serve a variety of water needs. This is planning for a "green" future.
Currently, the Ministry of Health has not yet accepted individual homeowners to recycle water but pilot projects for that specific application are now being monitored favourably by the ministry. It is only a matter of time when it will be accepted.
The older municipalities in the Greater Victoria Area are faced with crumbling sewage infrastructures and are stressed to finance repairs. Victoria is criticized for sending raw sewage out into the Juan de Fuca Strait. Sooke can avoid that bad press by not following the same path as Victoria. I think tourists would look favourably on Sooke if it took a "green" approach.
It's a golden opportunity for Sooke to take leadership by implementing modern 21st "green" technologies reflecting forward new thinking. That's what the funding encourages. It could be a model municipality on how it dealt with sewage problems not done by others in British Columbia.
Bring this to the attention of the Sooke council and your MLA, Brian Kerr.
(Editor's note: Peter Dixon lives in Victoria but owns property in Sooke.)
Sewers benefit all, all should pay
Letter by Dan Haverty to the Sooke News Mirror, July 16, 2003
Regarding the upcoming referendum on our sewer plans:
I believe a sewer system in Sooke is going to benefit Sooke as a whole and everyone should be involved in paying for it, not just the few people who will be on-line to begin with. Eventually, as the years go by, most everyone will be on-line.
I am fortunate enough to have two properties in Sooke. One is in Broom Hill and will likely be involved in the original setup. The other is in Saseenos, which likely won't be on-line in my lifetime, but I am willing to pay the extra taxes on both places to get the ball rolling.
Sooke is known for its volunteerism, so let's everybody "volunteer" a bit of their taxes for the benefit of making Sooke a better place to live.
Just a thought.
Did this guy just win the lottery or what? Does he think that every one in Sooke can afford this? Does everyone in Sooke want this? Does Sooke need this? Where is his head at? Doesn't he understand that sewage outfalls are the silent killers of the oceans? What about the fecal coliforms from boats, birds, hobby farms? Methinks that this guy will somehow personally profit from a sewer system in Sooke. It always seems to come down to personal greed...isn't that one of the seven deadly sins? Shame on him!
Letter to Sooke News Mirror by John Arnett, June 11, 2003
Our municipal politicians are flushed with excitement over the fact that the $11.6 million sewer grant will turn Sooke’s downtown core into high-rise heaven with a laundromat thrown in.
Still we hear little about the environmental impact of emptying treated sewage into the Strait of Juan De Fuca.
It is therefore encouraging to note that the District of Sooke’s first "Sewer Information Update" published in last week’s News Mirror states that the district is prepared to answer questions on such issues as where the sewage will be treated, where it will be disposed of and the environmental impacts of same.
Answering questions is one thing, giving satisfactory replies is another.
Questions such as, "How can you guarantee that when someone flushes a toilet in the aforementioned highrise heaven the contents will not end up lapping the shores of Whiffin Spit or carried by currents back from whence it came into Sooke Harbour?
Or: The effluent will empty into one of the most productive sport fishing spots on the coast. Is it safe to fish around a so-called sewage plume?
Come to Sooke and enjoy salmon a la toilette?
I have taken the unusual step of writing to George Abbott, the Minister of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services with some reluctance since it is my sincere desire that the ministry can greatly assist in judiciously evaluating the sewage and Liquid Waste Management proposals by the District of Sooke.
I attended the information meeting on Feb. 6 and must state that I am deeply disappointed with the process on various fronts. I am profoundly perturbed, specifically, that the public advisory committee as well as the technical advisory committee have not met nor have been called to working meetings since their inception on Dec. 18, 2002 at an inaugural information meeting.
Since then a flawed technical report has been presented at the public meeting, the inadequacies of which were highlighted by Dr. D. Forgie, presenter, in his presentation. I questioned the procedure of the creation of the PAC and TACs and stated publicly that they would appear to be nothing but windowdressing — how painfully true.
The proposed district’s agenda now leaves little, if any, room for meaningful considerations and rationales of the multitude of tasks confronting this hastily assembled project for sewage and Liquid Waste Management.
Parts of Sooke will benefit from sewering, and I am not against a reasoned and well-planned approach, with public input, to this project, but it is the ill-executed process of ramrodding through a proposal just in order to garner grant funds which is so upsetting.
This project demands proper re-evaluation of stages one and two for both sewer and Liquid Waste Management.
Citizens need to speak up for more input on the Liquid Waste Management Plan
Letter by Glen Dickie to the Sooke News Mirror, February 19, 2003
Speak up and let council know that there has been insufficient input from the taxpayers of Sooke regarding the Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP). This LWMP is being prematurely pushed forward by our council and the ill effects could be felt for generations. There must be a full and complete study with all options examined, all costs presented in each option entirely. Only then can an informed decision be made. Sewers and related infrastructure costs has surprised many unsuspecting taxpayers. Let’s take as much time as needed to make the next great step for Sooke a good one.
Letter by George Butcher (642-5388) to the Sooke News Mirror, February 12, 2003
One thing is certain from the Wednesday evening meeting on the Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP) and that is Mayor MacGregor and his sewer advocate councillors Farmers are desperate to maintain the illusion that we have had sufficient information and public consultation to move rapidly to the third and final stage in the planning process.
A Liquid Waste Management Plan is a fine and good thing. It requires calm and rational thinking; a fair assessment of all options and costs and it involves the public — our concerns must be given the same weight as technical advice. This has not happened in Sooke. An expensive sewer and outfall option was pre-determined early by an inner cabal of developer advisers and polished with a thin lacquer of high paid "expert" advice. The taxpaying public was not involved.
The Wednesday meeting should have been the kick-off event to a planning process that takes other communities years to complete. Instead we find out that we are merely months away from completing a phoney process and that the Mayor has already submitted the technical sewer design documents to the province. So your input doesn’t matter a damn.
During the meeting, the mayor admitted that the purpose of the sewer and ocean outfall was for "growth and development." He continued by basically pleading with the audience not to blow the whistle and that he had to ignore due process in order to make a quick grab for the federal/provincial grant money available under the Green Infrastructure Program. Well, I say blow the whistle.
Here are four things that citizens can do:
- Write to Joyce Murray, Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection. Tell her that there has been inadequate public consultation and demand that Sooke start its LWMP at Stage 1.
- Call your Councillors. Urge them to withdraw the sewer grant application.
- Work with WRATH [call George Butcher at 642-5388] to get your views heard.
- Do not accept the "inevitability" argument. There are several low-cost options being ignored that can achieve the environmental and health protection results we all desire.
Letter by John Stephens to the Sooke News Mirror January 28, 2003
Re: Councillor John Farmer’s frustration over the CRD Environment committee stalling in their decision to endorse recommendations of the sub-committee requiring regular septic system inspections for Sooke (News Mirror, Jan. 15):
I get the impression from this article that Coun. Farmer has recently experienced a profound change of heart and although dismayed by his astonishing reversal, I do applaud his initiative in advocating implementation of a plan to ensure responsible use of septic fields in our community. Such a plan would cost each household only $30 a year compared to the bankrupting $629 per year for a sewer system, after the crippling connection charge of $150 per metre. After all, why should we pay for an expensive sewage system when we already have properly functioning septic systems? Right on, John!
Letter to the Editor, Sooke News Mirror, December 18, 2002 by George Butcher
Given Mayor Macgregor’s obsession for sewers and an ocean outfall, we might need the independent voice of an ombudsman to act with fairness and to give the public honest answers. However, the mayor’s appointment of councillor John Farmer as sewer ombudsman has dispelled any notion that fairness is in the offing.
By definition, an ombudsman is impartial and independent. Councillor Farmer, as well know, is an owner of commercial property in the core and an unabashed promoter of sewers and ocean outfall at any cost. By practice, ombudsmen, over a 200-year history, exhibit three criteria: 1. they are not elected, 2. they are not advocates and 3. they do not defend the actions of a governing body. Councillor Farmer does not meet any of these tests.
As a former government bureaucrat, Mayor Macgregor knows what an ombudsman is. This is either a cynical move to fool the public or he has erred in judgement. He should either remove John Farmer from the appointment or call the position something more truthful, for example sewer promoter or sewer propagandist.
Letter by Lois Gardner to the Sooke News Mirror, December 11, 2002
Regarding John Stephen’s letter last week, and J. Smith’s of the week before, they are quite right, this sewer plan stinks. I was stunned that the mayor could blow off a 50 per cent tax increase as "two cups of coffee." In most other communities a heartless comment like that would have been political suicide. Of course it’s understandable when he and most of the rest of council don’t live in the specified area, so will not pay a red cent personally. If council members DO own holding property in the core area, then they are surely in conflict of interest to be voting on this matter.
What ticks me most about the process is that the planning is going ahead, at some expense no doubt, without even a letter or a by-your-leave to those of us who are expected to pay for it. Taxpayers deserve more respect than this high-handed treatment, and this illogical approach of proceeding before getting approval.
Most of the housing stock in Broom Hill is quite new, and J. Smith and her neighbours should not have to pay, on top of their big mortgages, for anything more than the septic fields in their back yards. It will be 50 years before that area is rolled over into higher density, so it is grossly unfair to subject those properties to a sewer levy that offers them no benefit. Even on the older edge of town, around Golledge, where I live, this plan will tax retired people out of their houses in order to build a seniors’ complex ... this is so funny- why is nobody laughing?
If the upgrading of the business area requires sewers, fine. Pare down the sewer plan to cover the business district and let the businesses and holding properties there foot the bill since they will reap the benefit. The seniors’ facility would be best placed downtown in any case, if it really must be on a sewer line. Any lingering problems with sewage contamination of the harbour can be revealed by point source tracking, at which the town engineer is well experienced. This smaller plan would be more likely to be approved for a grant and would put a lot of minds to rest on this issue.
I hope that the new council will review this whole sewer concept and come to a more financially realistic and fair decision.
Letter by John Stephen to Sooke News Mirror December 3, 2002
The Vancouver Island Health Authority is withholding a 50-bed seniors’ care facility for Sooke until there is a sewer system in place (News Mirror, Nov. 13). Why is that?
Both the Sooke Harbour House (with accommodations for more than 50 guests) and the (now-ex) social services building on West Coast Road occupy relatively small lots but process their liquid waste through highly efficient, self-contained sewage treatments plants without contaminating any environment beyond their own property lines.
Why can’t a seniors care facility do the same thing? I suspect this is yet another plot to force a community sewage system upon us when we really don’t need it.