The $10.7-million Bowser Village Centre sewer project has been discontinued.
The Regional District of Nanaimo board of directors conducted a lengthy discussion on the project in-camera at its regular meeting on March 26 and decided to stop the controversial sewer servicing project, due to scheduling and cost constraints.
The project was to include a collection system, wastewater treatment and effluent disposal for the Bowser Village Centre to support future growth in the Bowser Village area.
It was geared toward serving 99 parcels located in the village centre. In March 2017, it was awarded a $7.6-million joint Federal and Provincial Clean Water and Wastewater Fund grant to support the community’s evolution into a “compact, complete community.”
The grant was contingent on completing the project by March 31, 2020.
RDN general manager Randy Alexander said the original deadline was to have everything completed this year. They requested the federal and provincial governments for an extension of until the end of 2020 but were unsuccessful.
“Our consultants recognized that we needed that much time to finish the project, to construct it,” said Alexander. “They did extend it until March 31, 2020 but that was not sufficient. Our consultants said it’s just not possible to finish it.”
The balance of the cost of the project was to be paid for by four developers, who agreed to make advance payments on development cost charges for future developments, and through taxation. The four developers were A.G. Project Management Inc., owned by Alan Grozell; Coral Ice Developments, owned by Keith Reid; Ballard Fine Homes Ltd., owned by Donald Ballard; and James Walter Foulds and Lenny Agustin Foulds.
Alexander said that there was clause in the agreement that in case the project does not proceed, money that was contributed towards the project would be refunded to the developers.
“We will be working on them on that,” said Alexander. “Development will still proceed but it will be without a central sewer system. We will work with developers projects to work on how they can develop their properties.”
Although the discontinuation has future infrastructure servicing implications, the regional district has indicated it plans to continue to work with the property owners, provincial agencies and the community to support future growth in Bowser in accordance with the Electoral Area H (Shaw Hill, Deep Bay, Bowser) Official Community Plan.
The sewer project was significantly opposed by residents. Two groups, Stop Bowser Ocean Sewage (SBOS), and Area H Ratepayers and Residents Association, have been rallying diligently to stop the project.
Thomas Gates of SBOS said they are happy to hear the news but stressed that their goal was not about halting the entire project.
“We were never against the collection and the treatment and the development,” said Gates. “We were against the plan to discharge treated sewer into the ocean. That is all. We’ve always supported the businesses in the area and never gone after that part of it.”
Gates said it was all about being good stewards of the environment.
Alexander said with the project halted, the grant is no longer available to the regional district. If the Bowser community wants to start another sewage project in the future, the RDN would need to apply for grants again.