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District of Sechelt briefs: Potentially disastrous wastewater plant failure avoided during storm

Briefs from the Nov. 17 regular council meeting
N.Sewer review
District of Sechelt staff conducting maintenance work at the Water Resource Centre in late 2020.

Water Resource Centre and other staff work through storms

At the Nov. 17 meeting, District of Sechelt Council was told how planning on the part of Water Resource Centre (WRC) staff helped avoid the potentially disastrous situation of a wastewater plant failure. Director of engineering Kirn Dhillon explained that on Saturday (Nov. 13) WRC staff were monitoring rainfall and infiltration levels at the plant. Although the plant is computerized to adjust for inflows every 5.5 hours, staff determined that might not be sufficient given weather forecasts and arranged to have someone onsite 24 hours a day until the coming Monday to make manual adjustments as needed and keep the site operating. “One community in B.C. was evacuated because their wastewater treatment plant failed,” Dhillon stated. He accepted council’s thanks for the efforts of WRC staff and by other members of the Parks and Public Works team to keep the community safe during the storm event.

Airport lighting project moves forward

As part of his capital project update report at the Nov. 17 meeting, Dhillon advised council that a meeting for contractors starting the airport lighting project was held earlier that day. Mayor Darnelda Siegers commented that she would like to see work at the airport completed as soon as possible for the safety of the community in emergency situations.

Airport drag racing date request

Discussion of the potential for drag racing events at Sechelt Airport was put off until December by council as it waits for a report on potential infrastructure damage mitigation from staff. The Sunshine Coast Drag Racing Association is requesting use of airport facilities on five dates between July 8 and Sept. 11 of next year, three for potential public events and two for dates for association membership.

Bench and picnic table dedications to cost more

The price of dedicating a park bench or picnic table in memory of a loved one was increased by between 60 and 100 per cent, due to rising costs. At the meeting, council approved updates to district policies related to the community dedication program, which allows residents, for a fee of between $2,700 and $5,000 to have a bench or table with a bronze plaque placed and maintained on municipal property for a ten-year term. The term can be renewed with a repayment of the initial fee and if declined, the installation is offered to another program applicant. Parks manager Jayme Anderson told council that in 2020, Sechelt received dedications worth about $10,000 to $12,000.

Water sources for sports fields

Mayor Darnelda Siegers committed to access a Sunshine Coast Regional District report on area ground water to help staff plan water supplies options at Kinnikinnick Park and other sports field areas. Council agreed that although obtaining a water licence and drilling a well could take three to five years, the time to start planning has arrived, given the high level of damage the municipality’s sports fields suffered in 2021. In addressing his report to the council meeting, Anderson said, “there’s a lot of challenges, but I would say water is the main thing. We were in really good shape going into the spring [2021], but the summer was a killer. I understand that we all need water for other uses but we are at risk of losing our fields, our assets here.” 

Grant for two summer celebrations applied for

Council endorsed applying for a Canadian Heritage Celebrate Canada fund grant to help pay for local events for National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21 and Canada Day on July 1. Since 2016, Sechelt has been awarded funding from this source for its Canada Day programing.   

Staff were tasked with finalizing the grant application including the amount. Sechelt has a proposed 2022 budget of $10,000 for Canada Day expenses and any grant received would be used to supplement expenses for the two celebrations.

Flag half-masting policy amended 

Two weeks ago, council endorsed a new policy following federal direction allowing for local government input on half-masting the Canadian Flag. While Sechelt’s original policy referred specifically to the flag outside of the District’s Cowrie Street office, at the Nov. 17 meeting this was reworded to include flags at all “district-owned properties.”