Art Alchemy shows 250 square feet of art

Art Alchemy shows 250 square feet of art

By George Le Masurier

Art Alchemy, the Comox Valley art collective born out of a desire for more places to see local art, will hang its eighth annual Square Foot Art show this weekend

This article was updated Nov. 20 to include a quote from painter Sofie Skapski

H elen Utsal came to the Comox Valley to paint. She pictured a place “riddled with artists” and wanted to become part of the cultural scene that, she assumed, would have an abundance of public places to see the art created here.

She found something quite different when she arrived. There was, in fact, an abundance of artists working in a variety of mediums. But they mostly worked in isolation from each other, at home and in small out-of-the-way studios, and they all had little visibility in the community.

“It was and still is a struggle for local artists to get their work shown,” Utsal told Decafnation. “There’s just not many places to see art.”

So Utsal began forming the idea of a Comox Valley collective of artists who would create their own gallery and studio space, and share overhead costs.

She rekindled a plan by fellow artists Lucy Schappy and Jennifer Weber to take a chance on renting a space for a studio and gallery. They found a small space in Comox, but it fell through when the physiotherapists that owned the building decided to expand their own office.

Undaunted, Utsal formed the West Coast Art Collective during the winter of 2010-2011 with other nine Comox Valley artists who shared the dream of making local art more visible. The collective staged their first exhibition — a selection of 12-inch by 12-inch canvases they called The Square Foot Show — in June of 2011 at the now-defunct Purple Onion cafe in Comox.

Two years later, Utsal, Shappy, Weber and two new artists, Stacey Wright and Guillermo Mier, found the perfect space at 10th Street in Courtenay, above United Floors. It’s bright, has high ceilings and big windows and is large enough for all nine artists to have both studio and gallery space. They named the new endeavor Art Alchemy.

The artists at Art Alchemy have changed over the years, but the goal of having a place for artists to share their creative vibe and camaraderie has remained a constant.

And so has the Square Foot Show.

The nine current artists of Art Alchemy will be joined this weekend by 38 other mostly Comox Valley artists for the eighth annual Square Foot Show. (Friday, Nov. 23 from 7 pm to 10 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, from 11 am to 5 pm.)


Art Alchemy artists:  Mary Gorman,Shea Kottila, Sharon Lalonde, Larissa McLean, Nancy Randall Burger, Sofie Skapski, Helen Utsal, Nicolette Valikoski, Maggie Ziegler


It’s the first year the show has been juried and that submissions were accepted through a digital process.

“The whole purpose is to support artists and encourage them,” Utsal said.

Most serious art buyers have traditionally lived in larger cities, where cultural demands are greater.

“The Comox Valley is not a prime market,” Utsal said, noting that most local professional artists — those who support themselves through their art — sell to buyers in Vancouver, Toronto and internationally. “But that’s changing. Our population of art collectors is growing.”

Twenty-five artists have passed through the collective in its first seven years. Artists will rent space for two or three years and then move on, creating their own studios or moving from the area.

Sofie Skapski, one of the current artists at Art Alchemy, describes the experience like this: “I love our studio space here at Art Alchemy because of the openness and the wonderful light. It is important to me to work within a group because working alone in a studio can be isolating. Here we have camaraderie – we inspire each other in a supportive atmosphere but at the same time still maintain our privacy in our own personal spaces.

As the only remaining founder of the collective, Utsal has assumed the role of Art Alchemy’s principal artist, which means she takes on most of its administrative chores, like organizing the exhibitions. But it’s made easy by the “generous cooperative spirit we value and encourage.”

“Everyone pipes up, we’re all protective of the vibe,” she said.

This weekend’s Square Foot show is one of two exhibitions staged annually by Art Alchemy. They have another proprietary show in June that coincides with the Valley-wide art studio tour. And Art Alchemy artists also display their work at the Comox Valley Airport from May through October each year.

The Art Alchemy studio gallery is open to the public at 362C 10th Street in Courtenay. It’s open to the public from 11 am to 5 pm on Saturdays, or “whenever the door is open.”

 

 

 

More Culture

No Results Found

The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post.

More Culture
Marianne Enhorning: architecture to art

Marianne Enhorning: architecture to art

By George Le Masurier

Marianne Enhorning mixes her love of nature and the human figure with subtle architectural elements to create dreamlike paintings that establish her place in her family’s artistic heritage

 

Marianne Enhorning dances around her new Comox Avenue studio/gallery, adding brush strokes to multiple paintings she’s working on simultaneously, sometimes measuring herself up against a life-sized canvas as if she’s trying to connect with the figure of a woman in motion, sensing the image’s next movements.

Enhorning is preparing for an important exhibition in San Diego, one that might result in an American tour of her recent work, a series exploring the beauty and strength of women.

She’s got a dozen new paintings on the go and divides her attention among them, moving gracefully around jars of brushes, paint cans, easels and paint-stained buckets.

The stereotypically messy studio area strikes a sharp contrast to her gallery, where a clean, simple design reveals Enhorning’s Swedish heritage. The gallery would not look out of place in an IKEA showroom.

But it’s no accident that Enhorning’s gallery is well organized and attractive. She has a degree in architecture and worked in that field for 25 years designing houses and small commercial buildings. She spent 10 years in private practice in Vancouver before moving to the Comox Valley, where she continued to do architectural design. She also worked  off and on for a few years with Comox architect John Chislett.

There’s a subtle architectural influence in much of Enhorning’s work that wouldn’t be obvious without knowing her background. Whether she’s painting women, dancers, landscapes or communities of people, they are often framed in vertical linear shapes — trunks of trees, lines of people, stems of flowers or herds of unicorns — and the human figures provide a sense of scale to the grandeur of nature.

“In architecture, I loved the design, and was always looking at the art aspect. The technical side is so unlike me. There are so many rules and bylaws and restrictions. And in the end, it’s not really your own work. You’ve been compromised by all the limitations,” She says.

By contrast, Enhorning says that painting is “completely free.”

“When I’m painting there’s no client, no budget, no rules. I can do anything. Nothing is right or wrong, and nobody can say it’s wrong,” she says.

Art has always been a part of Enhorning’s life, but she didn’t always believe she was an artist.

She counts her grandmother, Louise Peyron, as her greatest influence. Peyron was a famous Swedish artist, who studied in Paris during the Lost Generation of Left Bank artists, writers and ex-pats around the 1920s, a community that included Gertrude Stein, Picasso and Hemingway.

But it was Enhorning’s older brother, Ulf, who their grandmother took under her wing. He became “the artist” in the family.

A SPECIAL PAINTING BROUGHT MARIANNE ENHORNING’S PARENTS TOGETHER: Read this story below

“So even though my parents had tons of art in the house, every room was like a gallery, and art was all I ever knew, my brother was ‘the artist.’ I didn’t think I could do it,” she says.

Still, Enhorning studied her grandmother’s work so intensely that those who know Peyron’s work can now see Peyron’s influence in Enhorning’s paintings. “She was my teacher, I feel it so strongly,” she says.

Enhorning only began painting seriously about five years ago. She was working exclusively with her own architectural clients, and doing some painting while juggling her role as a mother to two young children.

Then she was offered a chance to rent some studio space at Courtenay’s Art Alchemy by her friends Lucy Schappy and Helen Utsal. Enhorning thought she would try it out for a month.

“I painted for a month and I couldn’t stop,” she says. “It was so obvious that I had to paint.”

Yet, she still didn’t consider herself a full-time artist. Even when her work sold well at a small show at Art Alchemy with two other painters, who were also renting space there, she didn’t believe it.

“I thought that’s not real. That’s just my friends being nice to me, buying my painting because they felt sorry for me or something,” she says. So Enhorning kept doing architectural projects, even though she was selling more and more art work.

“Eventually, the counselor I was seeing told me to ‘just keep painting’ and not to come see her anymore,” she says. “Painting had become my therapy.”

So, she did. And now says that “even if a dream job in architecture came along today, I would say no.”

 
An emotional exercise

Enhorning describes her painting process as lying down in a grassy field looking up at the passing clouds on a summer day, seeing them change shapes and transition from one thing into something else. She turns her panels upside down and sideways, and looks at them from different angles, trying to discover where they are going to go next.

“I used to think that when authors said they don’t know where their characters are going until they write it, that was hokey. But it’s not. Now I understand it,” she says.

“The act of creating comes from the soul,” she says. “I get very emotional, I feel the experience of creating so deeply.”

For her series on women, Enhorning stands up close to the panels made by her husband at her exact height. She puts herself in the painting’s shape, trying to experience how the woman might feel, how her body might be moving. That often moves her to tears.

It’s so personal, and I feel fortunate to be able to do it,” she says.

Enhorning grew up with three older brothers, and she wanted to be a boy. She was a tomboy and thought girls were boring. They couldn’t match the thrill-seeking action of boys.

“But now, in my 50s, I realize the strength and beauty and power that women have. It’s taken me until now,” she says.

For Enhorning, the emotional process doesn’t end when a painting is finished.

“It’s hard to understand that people will spend money to have one of my paintings in their life. Obne client told me that my painting makes her feel so happy, so alive. It’s mind boggling,” she says.

Where to see Enhorning’s work

Vancouver Island collectors have purchased the bulk of Enhorning’s work, though she has buyers in Vancouver and Toronto, and is represented by a gallery in Waterloo, Ont. She sells through galleries as diverse as the Salish Sea Market in Bowser, Embellish, an interior design store in Duncan. She will be the featured artist at the Stock Home gallery in the Kitsilano neighborhood of Vancouver. Her work can be seen locally at her gallery and the Blackfin Restaurant in Comox.

Unlike some artists, Enhorning enjoys doing commissions, partly because it appeals to her architecture background and love of design. She uses 3D software from her former house design career to mirror a client’s room and create graphics of different size painting on the wall. Then she creates at least three different paintings for the customer to choose.

You can view Enhorning’s work on her website, enhorningdesign.com, on Instagram @enhorning design or at her public gallery in Comox, 1671 Comox Ave, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Next exhibition: Miami, Florida

Since Decafnation visited with Enhorning in October, she had a successful show in San Diego, selling seven large paintings and acquiring two commissions. It was so successful that her series on women was shipped from San Diego to Miami, Florida, for an exhibition in early December. She’s also adding new work for the Miami show.


How a special painting brought her parents together

Just how deep is Marianne’s Enhorning’s connection to art? Well, without art, she might never have existed.

It was a painting by her grandmother, Louise Peyron, that brought Enhorning’s parents together.

Here’s how Marianne Enhorning’s mother tells the story

“My mother was an artist. Her best friend was a journalist for one of the Swedish daily newspapers. She had a younger brother who was a doctor. He wanted to purchase some art, and asked his sister if she could arrange for him to see some of her friend’s work.

“So, he was invited to visit my mother in her studio. Looking over her various paintings, he selected one, and that was a portrait of a young girl.

“Oh, my mother said, that is my daughter, and I normally don’t sell portraits of my children. But, since you are my best friend’s brother, I might be willing to make an exception.

“So, he bought the painting of me, took it home, put it on his wall, and began to think that he would like to meet this girl ….

“Soon after, my mother gave a Christmas party, and among the guests were, of course, her best friend with her brother.

“I had helped with preparations for this party, baking various cakes and cookies, and this young man showed an enormous interest in these cookies, asking me to describe in detail how they were made.

“So, I told him! The rest is history!”

 

 


 

 

More Culture | Reviews

No Results Found

The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post.

More Culture | Reviews
Vaccine available for the virus headed our way

Vaccine available for the virus headed our way

By George Le Masurier

Vancouver Island health care professionals are warning about a serious virus headed our way. Fortunately, there’s a vaccine.

 

Vancouver Island health care professionals are warning about a serious virus predicted to hit the Comox Valley in just a few weeks. The disease will hospitalize many and in some cases threaten the lives of those most vulnerable.

Fortunately, the Comox Valley Public Health Unit has a vaccine that can protect against the disease, and prevent its spread throughout the community.

It’s called the ‘flu shot.

North Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Charmaine Enns said her offices started distributing the vaccine in October to Comox Valley medical offices and pharmacies, where most people get their annual vaccinations. And more people are getting them this year, probably due to a particularly bad epidemic last year.

Enns said the health unit had distributed more doses in the North Island by the end of last week — 35,000 — than it had last year in total. That mirrors Island-wide figures: 218,000 doses distributed so far this year, compared with a total of 225,000 during the 2017-2018 season.

But even this year’s upward trend in vaccinations isn’t enough, Enns told Decafnation. Only about 29 percent of the total Island population was vaccinated last year.

“The higher the vaccination percentage, the less likely the virus will spread,” Enns said. “We call it herd immunity. The vaccine protects those most at risk, and lessens the chance in others of transmitting it.”

The concept of herd immunity is how the world has eradicated major killer diseases. Vaccines have eliminated smallpox, which killed more than 500 million people, and has nearly vanquished polio. When more people get immunized, the risk factor diminishes for everyone. And that reduces the cost to the public health health care system.


The purpose of providing ‘flu vaccine is to reduce the likelihood of severe complications and death from influenza


 

Enns said those most at risk at the elderly and the very young. About 3,500 Canadians died last year, including several on Vancouver Island, from complications caused by influenza, such as heart attacks and pneumonia.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Toronto found that the risk of heart attacks jumped by 600 percent within the first days of an influenza infection.

Enns said public health can only estimate the number of deaths and hospitalizations caused by influenza, because it isn’t the disease itself that kills. The virus causes inflammation in the body, so the arteries in someone with heart disease close up more and trigger a heart attack or stroke.

The danger is similar for people with chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma, or with kidney issues.

The University of Toronto study, which examined 20,000 patients with confirmed influenza, also found that the ‘flu shot reduced the risk of a heart attack or stroke by 20 percent, and infected people were less likely to be hospitalized.

About 538 people were hospitalized with confirmed cases of influenza on Vancouver island last year. But the number is probably many times higher because infected people don’t often get formally diagnosed.

Because the influenza virus mutates frequently, the Canadian Centre for Disease Control produces a new vaccine every year based on estimates of those mutations. As a result, the vaccine is usually between 60 percent and 70 percent effective.

“But it’s a good as we’ve got,” Enns said. “People who’ve had the ‘flu shot won’t get as sick and especially the most vulnerable. The purpose of providing ‘flu vaccine is to reduce the likelihood of severe complications and death from influenza.”

Some of the most vulnerable are frail seniors resident on long-term care facilities, due to their age and the probability of having health issues.

Enns said that makes it more important for those who care for them and visit them to get vaccinated and mount up their own immunity.

A cold weather virus

Medical professionals have puzzled over why influenza virus strikes hardest every year from November through March. Some theories suggested the short days and lack of sunshine, causing a vitamin D deficiency. Others theorized that people are crowded together indoors.

But most health professional now accept the conclusions of a 2007 study at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York: cold, dry weather keeps the virus more stable and stays in the air longer.

‘Flu season in Canada starts in the eastern provinces and moves west as temperatures drop. Calgary has already been hit hard, with 510 confirmed cases since August.

In southern latitudes, the main ‘flu season runs from May until September. In the tropics, there is no real ‘flu season.

Why you should get the ‘flu shot

The ‘flu vaccine is our best defense against the virus and will not only protect you, but also the people you know and love.

–You can’t get the ‘flu from the ‘flu shot. It’s impossible. The viruses used to make the flu shot are dead. The worst side effect is a sore arm.

— It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to fully mount your immunity, so it’s best to get the shot early.

–Healthy people need to get a flu shot to protect people at risk and those who are not eligible. Newborn babies and adults with abnormally weak immune systems usually can’t get ‘flu shots. Their only protection comes from others getting the shot, and keeping the spread of ‘flu to a minimum.

— Influenza is a more serious infection than you may realize. It will exacerbate any underlying health conditions you already have, and may cause new problems, which for some can be deadly.

— It’s hard not to qualify for a publicly-funded (read: free) vaccination.

 

No Results Found

The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post.

New Zealander answers three No ProRep arguments

New Zealander answers three No ProRep arguments

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

{“dynamic”:true,”content”:”post_categories”,”settings”:{“before”:””,”after”:””,”link_to_term_page”:”on”,”separator”:” | “,”category_type”:”category”}}

By George Le Masurier

A former Comox Valley resident who now lives in New Zealand, which uses the mixed-member version of proportional representation, answers three common arguments against voting in favor of electoral reform in BC

 

A few readers have criticized Decafnation recently because we have not examined the arguments against changing our electoral system to proportional representation, the main question in the current provincial referendum.

So, we visited the “No to ProRep” website to understand the rationale behind sticking with the current system of First Past The Post.

We discovered that the No side does not extol the virtues of the current system that gives 100 percent of the power to a single party that may only get 30 percent to 40 percent of the votes. The No side website is singularly focused on reasons why proportional representation isn’t a good choice.

We put the “No to ProRep” arguments to Katie Betanzo, a high school teacher in New Zealand who grew up in the Comox Valley and graduated from G.P. Vanier. Betanzo lived in in British Columbia under FPTP and now lives in New Zealand under the mixed-member version of proportional representation.

Decafnation: One of the No side’s arguments is that “the most populated city will decide everything for all of BC. PR will lead to a Vancouver-centric government that only cares about Vancouver issues.” In other words, the No side argues the political power base will move to the largest urban areas and smaller, rural communities will lose influence in the government. Has that been your experience in New Zealand?

Katie Betanzo: I have to say, this is not an issue I have heard much about here. I suppose it’s arguable that, under our system of MMP, most of our ‘list’ MPs come from urban centres rather than rural areas, but it’s just as likely that a rural electorate winds up with effectively two MPs working for them, for instance West Coast –Tasman, with a Labour electorate MP and a National list MP based in the area.

The thing about proportional representation, though, it’s proportional. Every few years we redraw electorate boundaries so that there are roughly the same number of people in each electorate. So, of course, rural electorates are physically very big – but they represent the same number of voters as a relatively ‘small’ urban electorate. The balance of power does come from the cities, but that’s where the bulk of people live. So it makes sense.


Our situation normal is two large parties – centre left and centre right – supported in a coalition government by at least one small ‘extreme fringe’ party and one small centrist party. It tends to balance out.


Historically, our electorates were unbalanced in favour of rural areas. Urban electorates had 28 percent larger populations than rural ones, giving rural electorates a disproportionate amount of power.

One thing to note, though, is that we have a party which was founded since the introduction of PR that has a focus on the regions (rural areas). Because of PR, that party consistently winds up in parliament and at the moment are in government – part of the coalition. So we have both a properly representative and proportionate government, and also a strong pro-rural voice in government.

We also have a certain number of seats for Māori, our indigenous people, who are more likely than the general population to live in rural areas. Māori can chose to vote in either a general or a Māori electorate, but this ensures a strong voice for indigenous issues in central government. These seats date back to 1867.

Decafnation: The No website also claims that under PR, “the rise of backroom deals and political posturing is inevitable.” Does this happen in New Zealand?

Betanzo:: I suppose this is a concern and it does get thrown around from time to time, but it’s almost never proven — certainly no more prevalent than under FPTP. If anything, having to work together with at least one other party in government tends to keep parties honest.

The closest I can think of is some past manoeuvring by a right-wing party to ensure that another, very small right-wing party won an electorate seat (the larger party did not stand a candidate in the electorate), and thus would bring two MPs into Parliament under our MMP rules. This was widely held to be a corrupt practice and created quite a scandal.

As for any type of cronyism or nepotism – it doesn’t happen – not more than under FPTP.

Decafnation:: And last, anti-Pro-Rep people say the system gives the balance of power to extreme fringe parties on the right or the left. They say PR allows “extremist parties to have a say.” Has that happened in NZ?

Betanzo: In theory, it is possible that an extreme fringe party could sway a government (the tail wagging the dog). But in theory, it is also possible that an extreme and vocal faction within a larger party could sway that party’s policies. (That happened here when a small group within a socialist party drove their neoliberal economic agenda through into law.)

I’ve done a far bit of research, and the most common mention of the “tail wagging the dog” or “unpopular legislation” is in the context of people complaining about proportional rep. It’s a myth. There are a few examples of small parties using their leverage to get bills introduced to parliament, but once the bill is before the house it has to pass the same scrutiny as any other legislation.

Our situation normal is two large parties – centre left and centre right – supported in a coalition government by at least one small ‘extreme fringe’ party and one small centrist party. It tends to balance out.

Once or twice a far left or right party has managed to tug a government a bit further to the left or right, but nothing like the myth of the country being held hostage by an extreme fringe party.

 

{“dynamic”:true,”content”:”post_categories”,”settings”:{“before”:”More “,”after”:””,”link_to_term_page”:”on”,”separator”:” | “,”category_type”:”category”}}

No Results Found

The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post.

{“dynamic”:true,”content”:”post_categories”,”settings”:{“before”:”More “,”after”:””,”link_to_term_page”:”on”,”separator”:” | “,”category_type”:”category”}}

Long-term wastewater planning underway at CVRD

Long-term wastewater planning underway at CVRD

Critical long-term wastewater infrastructure questions are being asked at the CVRD, among them: Should sewer pipes come out of the K’omoks Estuary? What level of treatment do we want, and how will we meet the long-term growth of the Comox Valley? And, should we be planning to recover our wastewater resource?

 

This article was updated Nov. 9

Just over a year ago, the Comox Valley Regional District stepped back from plans to patch the existing sewer service, which serves only Courtenay and Comox, and take time to consider how best to meet the long-term needs of a growing Comox Valley population.

That process got underway this summer with public consultations that have included in-person meetings, an online survey and two open houses held this week at the treatment plant.

Planning is focused on three main areas:

First, how best to collect and convey wastewater to the Comox Valley Water Pollution Control Centre on Brent Road, near Point Holmes.

The main pipe carrying sewage from the Courtenay #1 pump station next to Kus-kus-sum site on Comox Road, currently runs through the K’omoks Estuary and Comox Harbor, under Goose Spit and along the beach below the Willemar Bluffs before turning inland a short distance to the Brent Road plant.

CVRD engineers and an Public Advisory Committee will consider other options for moving wastewater to the treatment plant, including overland routes that would reduce risk to the K’omoks Estuary. The committee includes eight public members, plus three elected officials and representatives from industry and stewardship sectors.

Lyle Deines, a CVRD treatment plant employee, explains how the laboratory tests for such things as aerobic bacteria that degrade pollutants and the cleanliness of the discharged effluent

Second, what level of treatment should be provided at the treatment plant now, and a long-term plan for meeting both evolving land-use planning standards and the needs of geographical areas beyond the boundaries of Courtenay and Comox.

The existing plant meets or exceeds all provincial and federal standards, but does not provide tertiary level treatment. It doesn’t directly treat for nitrogen, pharmaceuticals or heavy metals.

Nor does it treat wastewater to a standard that can be safely used for agricultural irrigation, golf courses or other non-potable uses, such as groundwater reinjection.

Some communities around North America and elsewhere already treat wastewater to a level that it is directly re-introduced into their drinking water systems.

FURTHER READING: Make your voice heard through the CVRD online survey, see who’s on the Public Advisory Committee and other information

Third, how to incorporate resource recovery options, and its cost, into this long-term planning process.

For example, if upgrades to the treatment plant produced effluent safe for agricultural uses and a new, overland conveyance route was chosen, a new pipe carrying the highly cleaned wastewater could be laid at the same time back to the Courtenay #1 pump station.

Plant employee Colin Packham, in the top photo, shows the new odour control lids on the clarifier tanks, as Area B Director-Elect Arzeena Hamir listens; and, above, center, shows the centrifuges that take the water out of the sludge

Interesting wastewater facts

During this week’s open houses, employees of the treatment plant toured dozens of citizens through the facility. Here’s a random collection of facts and observations from one of those tours.

— The CVRD spent about $2 million retrofitting the plant to mitigate the odour problems that have plagued nearby residents for decades. Permanent covers over the primary clarifiers and a high-tech activated carbon polisher have reduced odours.

But when major community events, such as MusicFest, occur and the volume of waste dumped into the system via septic pumping trucks, the density of the sewage can create a spike in odours. For that reason, these volumes are held and processed during the nighttime when regular residential flows have diminished.

–In the summer months, it takes about 24 hours for sewage to travel from the Courtenay #1 pump station to the treatment plant. But in the winter, when rain water infiltrates the sewer lines, it flushes through much faster, in about 8 hours.

— It takes about one day for wastewater entering the treatment plant to exit to the Point Holmes outfall.

— Effluent travels via gravity only from the treatment plant to the outfall, which is located at the sharp curve in Lazo Road up the Point Holmes hill. The outfall extends 3 km at a 45-degree angle into the Strait of Georgia and terminates at a depth of 60 metres.

— The treatment plant was designed in 1983 and has a permitted maximum daily discharge of 18,000 cubic meters of wastewater per day, and averages about 14,000 cubic meters. The daily average goes down to about 12,000 cubic meters in the summer. In the mid-2000s, the plant started to exceed its maximum daily discharge during peak wet weather events, and now exceed the permitted discharge approximately 30 times per year. Those numbers are reported to the Ministry of Environment. 

Wastewater coming into the plant, left, and the discharged effluent on the right

But in the winter, the volume of wastewater flowing through the plant reaches more than 40,000 cubic meters per day. The increase, which is more than three times the summer average, is due to rain water from winter storms infiltrating the system.

— The treatment plant has a laboratory where testing occurs daily for the quality of effluent leaving the plant, the heaviness of solids entering and the population of aerobic bacteria present during the aeration process that degrade the pollutants for their growth and reproduction.

— The first step in treatment process screens out all the rags, paper, plastic and metals that have been flushed into the sewage pipes. The plant removes a full dumpster load every week.

— Not all solids are removed from the wastewater before it’s discharged into the Strait of Georgia, but most of it. About 3,000 kg of solids enter the plant every day. The discharged effluent contains about 75 kg per day.