Michael Briones photo Bowser residents show posters opposing the marine outfall plan for the proposed Bowser Sewer Service at the Regional District of Nanaimo board meeting on Tuesday night.

RDN board gives Bowser sewage project green light

Despite pleas from residents, directors don’t want to lose $10.7 million grant

The Regional District of Nanaimo board of directors has approved the Bowser Village Centre Wastewater Project.

Despite hearing the passionate pleas of Bowser residents and those from neighbouring communities at its regular meeting Tuesday, Aug. 22, the board unanimously adopted all three necessary bylaws — sewer service establishment, loan authorization and development cost charge — that will now provide the funding needed for the project to proceed.

Prior to Tuesday night’s board decision, the 99 property owners, representing 107 parcels in the proposed sewer service area, also voted in favour of the project via a petition process earlier this month. Out of the 107 parcels, 62.6 per cent, or 67 property owners, endorsed the $10.7 million project.

The board acknowledged its decision may not be a popular one, but it did not want to lose the $7.6 million Clean Water and Wastewater Fund, which most directors said was difficult to attain. The RDN is on a tight timeline, as the CWWF requires them to complete the project by March 31, 2019.

Seven individuals appeared before the board to express their strong opposition to the project, particularly the marine outfall option that will see treated sewage discharged to the sea through pipes laid in the residential Noonday Road public beach access site. They want the RDN to fully explore land disposal.

There were two delegations that wanted the project to proceed.

One resident, Thomas Gates, who is representing the Stop Bowser Marine Sewage Outfall group, presented the board with a petition with nearly 650 signatures. He strongly stressed that they are not opposed to the sustainable development of the village.

“The people that would be significantly impacted by the outfall are not the people who were given the vote,” said Gates. “No consultation was done with the impacted community. That’s just wrong. To be clear, of the over 3,800 citizens in Area H, only 107 votes were permitted. That means the proposed bylaw for an expandable service that will cause negative effect was voted on by less than three per cent of the population. This is not fair. This is not democratic. And it’s legally questionable.”

Gates indicated his group has hired legal counsel and, on Aug. 17, sent board chair Bill Veenhoff a letter from their solicitors.

“I trust that you shared the letter with the board,” said Gates. “The letter identifies the legal risks associated with nuisance and injurious affection which will be brought within a class action, again revealing an additional cost. Make no mistake, we will see this through in the end.”

Gates said there has been no study on best soil in areas identified in the Chatwin report in 2011, which he claimed was excluded by the RDN’s consultant, Stantec.

Veenhoff said the Bowser sewer project is an opportunity to achieve the vision of transforming Bowser into a small, compact community.

“The only way you can realize density in a small village is to have sewage treatment,” said Veenhoff. “That caused staff to ask for grants. It’s outstanding that we got the money. We have a plan in place to go forward. Tonight is just a step in the process. The very significant step happens after tonight.”

With the board’s approval, the RDN can now start detailed planning that will entail all aspects of the sewage system, including the outfall, said Veenhoff. It will also start the consultation process that will include the First Nations and other residents outside the village centre.

“I get the concerns about the outfall,” Veenhoff said prior to the board’s vote on the bylaws. “I understand that they are real and I understand that they have to be dealt with. People need to be listened to. The RDN is committed to having a public meeting with the residents of Area H and anybody else, I can imagine, to discuss the outfall. From those discussions that can only happen if we have a positive vote tonight, we will have a fulsome understanding of what is acceptable by the public in terms of an outfall. I would ask you very strongly to support this. It is the way forward. It is the way to realize the long-term aspirations of this board and the residents of Bowser and the village centre.”

Randy Alexander, general manager, regional and community utilities, was asked if the RDN, once the board approves the bylaw, could alter the location of the outfall. He indicated that the provincal government makes the final decision. All the components of the project will be reviewed by the province, including the detailed design of the sewage system and environmental assessments. It will also take into consideration the consultations conducted with residents and stakeholders.

“Ultimately it’s their decision whether it would be built or not, or relocated,” said Alexander.

The costs of the project not covered by the grant will be paid for by the developers and property owners.

The RDN will enter into a development cost charges (DCC) front-ender agreement with participating developers, A.G. Project Management Inc., Coral Ice Developments Ltd., Ballard Fine Homes Ltd., Magnolia Enterprises Ltd., and James Walter Foulds and Lenngy Austin Foulds.

They will cover $2.7 million, and the rest is to be shouldered by residents.

Story tips: michael.briones@pqbnews.com

Just Posted

Marijuana to be legal in Canada Oct. 17: Trudeau

Prime Minister made the announcement during question period in the House of Commons

Parksville mayor announces he won’t run again

Lefebvre endorses Coun. Kirk Oates for mayor ahead of Oct. 20 election

Supportive housing project divides Parksville

Hundreds attend public hearing for 222 Corfield St. rezoning

Woman steps on dirty needle in Qualicum Beach

Delegation suggests Vancouver Island Health Authority distributes retractable needles

Accomplished British chef creating at Crown Mansion restaurant in Qualicum Beach

Butlers at the Mansion gets new executive chef, formerly with Gordon Ramsay’s Claridges

In reversal, Trump signs executive order to stop family separation

President had been wrongly insisting he had no choice but to separate families apprehended at border

New Jersey forward Taylor Hall wins Hart Trophy as NHL MVP

Vancouver’s Sedin brothers share King Clancy Award for humanitarian efforts

Vancouver Island nursery property sells in historic deal

Green Thumb Garden Centre and Nurseries in north Nanaimo sold

GoFundMe page launched for families of missing Vancouver Island fishermen

Search for three men whose vessel capsized near Tofino on June 15 continues.

50 new fires sparked in B.C. after lightning strikes across province

Similar conditions seen at the beginning of 2017 wildfire season

B.C. woman graduates high school at age 92

Nanaimo’s Joan Deebank the oldest high school graduate ever in B.C., as far as ministry can confirm

B.C. Appeal Court rules lottery winner must be paid back $600,000 loan

Enone Rosas won $4.1 million in a lottery in 2007 and loaned a portion to a friend

B.C. man surprised after used needle falls from sky

A Vernon resident said a syringe fell out of the sky and landed at his feet

Liquor review finds issues with B.C. wholesale monopoly

Report calls for ‘conflict of interest’ in system to be fixed

Most Read