SCRD briefs

Studies going ahead for three wastewater plants

Feasibility studies are moving ahead for three small wastewater treatment plants operated by the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD).

Grant money from the Infrastructure Planning Grant Program will be spent on studies for the Greaves Road and the Merrill Crescent wastewater plants, both in Pender Harbour and deemed highest priority, said staff at the June 25 corporate and administrative services committee meeting.

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A budget of $7,500 has been set for each plant and the SCRD has committed to contributing $1,250. The remainder will be covered by the grants. 

Staff had hoped to get funding from the provincial grant program for six of its 18 treatment plants and will make a second attempt with the next round of applications in 2021. 

One of the wastewater treatments denied funding was the Langdale treatment plant, but staff will be moving ahead with a $7,500 feasibility study anyway, because it’s also considered high priority.

A failing disposal field forced staff to connect the Langdale plant to the nearby YMCA wastewater plant. YMCA pays for operating costs, which have been increasing steadily, and a lack of funding from campers this year due to COVID-19 has put additional strain on its resources, according to a staff report. The SCRD is looking at cost-sharing options and the feasibility study would allow staff to move forward with a permanent fix. 

The remaining 12 wastewater treatment plants have a longer expected useful life and the need for feasibility studies aren’t as immediate. Staff said grants will be sought out for eventual feasibility studies, regardless.

 

More money for landfill’s drywall voids

Directors agreed to spend an additional $237,605 to allow temporary operations to continue at the Sechelt landfill until a permanent fix is made to the dump’s sinkholes.

The money will come from future taxation and operating reserves. Infrastructure services general manager Remko Rosenboom said most of the money is needed to contract trucks and drivers to haul and empty garbage bins at the temporary drop-off site that are about half the size of the regular ones. The money would also be used to hire a consultant for designs and tendering for the remediation effort.

A number of sinkholes began appearing at the landfill in January, caused by deteriorating drywall. Staff estimate it will cost about $1 million to solve the problem, on top of the $200,000 already spent to investigate the cause and develop a short-term workaround.

 

Directors OK UBCM resolution on land-use planning

Concerns over damage to the environment and local infrastructure as a result of bad land-use planning have spurred directors to ask the province to get better at it.

Directors voted on a resolution for the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) asking the Ministry of Forests and Natural Resources (FLNRORD) to develop land-use planning and cumulative effects tools that would take an “integrated, multidisciplinary or multi-ministry” approach.

The tools would be applied to watersheds and to applications to make private use of public lands and are needed, according to the resolution, because provincial ministries often consider applications independently of each other “and do not have or apply sufficient regulatory frameworks for ensuring long-term ecological resilience.”

At a June 25 committee meeting where directors approved the resolution, SCRD chair Lori Pratt said, “It’s a very timely issue to be bringing forward,” since many regions in B.C. are facing stormwater and erosion issues. “The ministries don’t talk to each other, they operate in silos,” she said.

A staff report earlier this year said “the community and several experts” believed logging of District Lot 1312 contributed to a washout of Lower Road in Roberts Creek that resulted in evacuations and a local state of emergency for three weeks. A portion of that road remains unpaved.

Directors approved the resolution at the June 25 board meeting. It will be considered at the next UBCM convention, scheduled for September.

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