Imagine a sewer pump station with a homey feel

What would the City of Courtenay and the Town of Comox do if they didn’t have a convenient ocean to dump their contaminated sewage into?

Imagine, a homey feel at the Courtenay Air Park Treatment Plant (CAPTP). A place suitable to host wedding receptions and city galas.

All the pipes are in place to have the sewage flow down hill to this site. Thousands of cubic meters of fresh recycled water to water city boulevards, farm land and local lawns ending watering restrictions. Attach a bio-gas plant and bingo thousands of yards of clean soil for local farms and gardens after the natural gas has been captured and piped into Fortis main line to heat our homes and even power the local bus line.

How to pay for this? By using recycled water to irrigate lawns, wash cars and flush toilets, the demand for purified drinking water would drop by 80 percent. The proposed $70 million water purification plant could be dropped to $20 million, giving $50 million to CAPTP. The $90 million for the South Courtenay sewer project could go into CAPTP. The $35 million plus, not spent on trying to fix up the nine kilometers of pipes and pump stations pushing the sewage out to sea.

And then there is the future. Numbers like $200 million to replace the decaying 40-year-old Brent road so- called treatment plant and then there is the issue of replacing the existing pipeline running along the foreshore of Dyke Road. The only option is to go over land making the new high pressure pump station and pipe line through Croteau Beach redundant.

Add it up and it looks like over the next two decades water and water treatment will cost the tax payer something like $350 million. Prices always go up. Doing a proper job now will cost less than in the future and why not get in on some of that federal infrastructure money being offered by the guy with good hair?

I don’t think the people of the valley want to hold their heads in shame by comparing the dark age technology used in Victoria to treat their sewage even if it does look homey. I feel sick when I think of the quagmire of future costs that CVRD senior engineer Mark Rutten is leading the sewer commissioners into … just because we have a convenient ocean near by.



Comox destroys heritage in Canada’s 150th

The National Trust for Canada has just released a report that over the last 30 years Canada has “shockingly” lost over 20% of its historical buildings. (At almost 100%, Comox definitely exceeds national standards.)
Shakesides and Baybrook are victims of the same national ignorance that undermines Canadian identity and the legacy of our national and provincial history.  The issue of heritage preservation is non-partisan, as every new Canadian citizen is told, “the preservation and protection of Canadian heritage is a Canadian citizenship obligation.”
Thanks to the efforts of the Conservative MP for York-Simcoe, Peter Van Loan, a progressive bill to provide tax credits for heritage is now before parliament. The National Trust for Canada urges all Canadians to tell elected officials to support heritage:
“Bill C-323 – An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (Rehabilitation of Historic Property) – proposes to create tax credits for historic places. This Bill presents an historic opportunity to tell elected officials from every political party that Canada’s historic places matter.” This would remove costs from the operation of a museum at Shakesides – as per Mack Laing’s explicit will.
For Canada’s 150th anniversaryeven Premier Christy Clark is now also generously making potential  funds available for the restoration of Shakesides:
“Canada 150: Celebrating B.C. Communities and their Contributions to Canada”, Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development said, “Arts, culture and heritage are at the core of British Columbia’s cultural identity. We have a wealth of stories to contribute to Canada 150 and an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of our province. Investing in long-term cultural legacies will support our communities in sharing B.C.’s stories for generations to come.”

​There is obviously no end of federal and provincial funding available to restore Shakesides, and comply with the terms of the Mack Laing Trust.  So, could somebody please explain to the public why Mayor Paul Ives and Comox​ Council are so hell bent on destroying national heritage a Shakesides in the very year when Canada is supposed to celebrate 150 years by protecting and restoring national heritage?
Who are these people, these Canadians who destroy our heritage? And why the complicit silence of our would-be MLAs: Ronna Rae Leonard, Jim Beninger and Ernie Selletin? Silence is approbation, of national heritage vandalism.

“Tell elected officials”: “Save national heritage at Shakesides.”

(HeritageBC Award 2016)


Doctors link flu outbreak to sewage leaks in estuary

Re: Current outbreak of flu potentially linked to leaky force mains in estuary

News Reports in the Vancouver Island media suggest a serious stomach flu this winter caused by the norovirus has been linked to eating raw or poorly cooked oysters. Oysters are one of the hardest working animals in the ocean. An adult oyster is capable of filtering 25-50 gallons of water a day which could concentrate the virus particles.

TV reports suggest that seniors have been hit especially hard with these symptoms this year. On its website, the Public Health Agency of Canada suggests that raw sewage is one of the sources of the spread of the virus.

Those of us who live in the Comox Valley should be particularly concerned about these observations. Our estuary and Baines Sound are important to our local economy and are one of the prime oyster growing areas in the world. Despite this, our local Sewage Commission continues to support and maintain leaky force mains in the foreshore and is suggesting the construction of a large sewage pump station in Beech Street, an area that is not serviced by sewer. This would be unfair to affected residents and would create significant risks for wells and aquifers in the area, which is close to the sensitive ecosystem of the Goose Spit.

These environmental, health, and safety issues could easily be avoided by moving the sewage infrastructure overland. This would involve upgrading the ageing Courtenay pump station (see CVRD engineer comments in recent media)and force main rather than pursuing an unnecessary and stop-gap measure in Beech Street. This approach would also be cost-effective. Specifically, an analysis has determined that it would save taxpayers between seven and twelve million dollars over the current proposal.

Is it not time to get all force mains out of our coastal waters and on land?

Yours sincerely,

DR. PAUL HORGEN, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto (retired microbiologist)

cc. Charmain Enns Medical officer

Shakesides adviser releases letter sent to Mayor Ives

May 4, 2016

Town of Comox Office of the Mayor

1809 Beaufort Avenue Comox, B.C., V9M 1R9

Attention Paul Ives, Q.C.

Dear Sir,

Re: Mack Laing Nature House Advisory Committee – Terms of Reference (TOR)

As our Committee rather abruptly concluded its meetings on Friday and they have previously agreed that email discussions are not acceptable I’m left with some outstanding questions and no one to talk to.

So I thought I would write you a note that you can (if appropriate) help me with. I’m not confident that we have satisfied the Terms of Reference that you assigned us. I am also left wondering if we perhaps strayed from the intent of the TOR as my construction expertise was rarely called on. Our chairman will be circulating his draft report to council for us to review at or just before our May 13 meeting to discuss it. As time is of the essence perhaps after your review of our April 29, 2016 meeting minutes you may wish to redirect our focus and put us back to work on the TOR.

In brief, here is where I feel we came up short:

1. Goals: a. We did not review in depth the potential of converting the existing Mack Laing House into a natural history museum. The SWOT process looked at it from a high level but did not look at it in detail. The fear of most committee members of operating and capital costs caused them to dismiss the possibility without drilling deeper into your request to examine its potential. b. I prepared a list of heritage funding organizations from an easily accessible website and then supplemented that list with private funding methods. Your second goal of the TOR (fundraising opportunities) was never raised and discussed to any extent at a meeting. So I have to conclude we have not properly achieved that goal.

2. Deliverables: a. We did not discuss or develop an action plan that would be submitted to council for potential implementation. We did come up with four options that underwent a SWOT process. During the SWOT we discussed three options related to the preservation of the house and a fourth option that did not include the house. Last week we voted that the third option Virtual Museum was the preferred option. Although I fail to see how that option applies to your TOR as a committee member I have to accept the majority 1 opinion. Discussion has ended. An action plan is still required to implement this option. That has not been completed.

3. Scope/Jurisdiction: a. As an advisory body we have not discussed (documented) how the preferred goal (or for that matter any of the options) could be met with the limited financial resources that are available. This circles us back to your second goal of identifying funding. I believe as a committee we should produce a business plan with timetable attached for each of our preferred options. That plan may bring clarity to the feasibility of the options as well as their weighted acceptability with respect to Mack Laing’s will and Trust.

In summary, I would appreciate your thoughts on the above items. I have truly enjoyed the project and as stated at our first committee meeting, I’m there to help as required and I remain so.



CVRD engineer made a shameful statement

This letter represents the concerns of over 60 households who signed a petition against the proposed Beech Street Sewage Pump Station.

We have expressed many times the serious health, safety, and fairness issues the sewage station would create. We now want to bring to your attention the democratic deficit represented by a shameful statement made recently by Kris LaRose of the Comox Valley Regional District. When Courtenay director Erik Eriksson asked why the neighbourhood directly affected by the station has no say regarding the issue, Mr. Larose said “Permission on behalf of the residents is not required for determining the alignment of the forcemain.” (Comox Valley Echo, February 24)

It has taken several years for the CVRD to reveal its approach to democracy. It has finally done so, via an audacious admission that when it makes important decisions involving taxpayers’ dollars, “permission on behalf of residents is not required”.

Mr. LaRose and members of the CVRD, we wish to remind you that the foundation of democracy is consultation with, and permission from, voters.

We have asked the CVRD over and over for proof that our safety and our wells would not be compromised. We have asked the CVRD over and over for an justification as to why those who would be affected by the sewage pump station have no say in where it is located. We have asked the CVRD over and over for an assessment of the impact of the station on people in the area, including children, the elderly, and individuals who are ill. The CVRD has not provided us with any of this information, and now we know why: it is because it believes it can act unilaterally, without considering how its decisions affect the people of the Comox Valley.

This democratic deficit extends to the other two levels of government. We have written to the federal Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, regarding the recently announced Goose Spit sewage line but have not received a reply, despite following up in writing. We have also written to the provincial Minister of Health, Terry Lake, regarding the risks to our wells but he also has not replied to our letter or to correspondence asking for an update.

If the conduct of federal, provincial, and municipal officials on this issue reflects their approach to other matters, we should all be greatly concerned.



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