Presentation to Council 2014-04-17

There was a good turnout at last night’s Council meeting. Council chambers were full, with folks having to sit on the floor or watch from the hallway. Many thanks to those who were able to attend, and to those who wrote letters to Council. Although they were not in the agenda package, Councillor Palm showed a hefty stack of emails that had been received.

Karen Skadsheim presented Townsite Ratepayers concerns that were voiced at Monday’s meeting, and George Orchiston also made a presentation regarding some of the more technical aspects of the co-treatment proposal. He also highlighted the fact that sewage treatment plans need the support of the community and co-treatment clearly does not.

It was also reported that a new study from Paul Klopping regarding co-treatment was only just received yesterday, and no one from either committee has seen it yet.

Councillor Dee moved that they NOT send the Draft 6 plan to the Ministry of Environment without first having the public communication that was outlined in June 2013, and Mayor Formosa added removal of the clarifier from the plan to the motion. The motion passed with only one opposed, Councillor Palm who is Chair of both the Joint Advisory and Steering Committees for Liquid Waste Management.



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Meeting Recap

Many thanks to all who attended the Townsite Ratepayers Meeting last night, and particular thanks to Ellen Gould and George Orchiston for being on hand for financial and technical guidance, and to Leona Jensen for taking minutes. Minutes from last night’s meeting have been posted.

Townsite Ratepayers Association (represented by Karen Skadsheim) is on the agenda as a delegation at the Council meeting Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 7:00pm to voice Townsite residents concerns about the latest draft plan. The Draft 6 LWMP is on the agenda that night with the recommendation that Council approve and submit it to the Ministry of Environment for their approval. If you can attend this meeting, it will be appreciated. 

Residents are encouraged also to write letters to Council with copies to Ministry of Environment officials (at this point, email is best or dropping off hard copy at City Hall) expressing their concerns about the latest draft plan. The email addresses are here.  [If anyone is interested, former TRA Chair Judy Watts wrote a great letter in June 2011.]

These are the main points brought up at last night’s meeting:

1. THE OLD CLARIFIER – In May 2011, the Townsite Ratepayers Association specifically asked Council to remove the old clarifier from consideration in the liquid waste management plan. Council subsequently passed a resolution removing it in June 2011 and as of the last publicly available draft plan (Draft 3, June 2013) the clarifier was not mentioned.

Draft 6 has just been released and the clarifier is back in the plan, and the Steering Committee wants to push the plan through to the Ministry of Environment without any public communication. This is clearly unacceptable.

Townsite Ratepayers objections to the clarifier still stand: it is too old and far too close to homes to be considered even remotely acceptable as part of a sewage treatment facility, and we fully expect Council to respect its own resolution and remove it from consideration.

All this aside, the clarifier is a white elephant. A former mill employee reported that this clarifier was past its life expectancy when it was decommissioned and would require inspection before being put back into service. Inspection would involve X-raying the complete unit which is a very expensive process and was not done.

The Draft 6 plan does not outline who would be responsible for costs involved in recommissioning; however, it does call for ownership to be transferred to the City so it can be assumed that these costs would be for taxpayers, even though we have no idea what they might be.

2. PUBLIC COMMUNICATION – At the June 2013 meeting of the Steering Committee, they released a timeline that included a town Hall meeting to be held in September. Neither the Town Hall meeting nor any of the other communication items (web information, print ads, etc) have happened.

The consultant’s report on the public consultation meetings that actually were held, stated that an overwhelming majority supported a publicly-owned consolidated plant and rejected co-treatment on all levels. Further, it went on to say that the community clearly wanted a better understanding of the project, and that there was a perception of a lack of honesty, transparency, and accountability.  As far as Townsite residents are concerned, returning the clarifier to the plan totally reinforces this observation.

Which brings us to

3. LOSS OF CONFIDENCE – Residents have lost all confidence whatsoever in this process and especially in the Chair, Jim Palm. Townsite Ratepayers will be asking Council to remove him and appoint a new Chair who will listen to and respect the wishes of the public. Our choice would be Councillor Russell Brewer.

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TRA Meeting

There will be a meeting of the Townsite Ratepayers Association to present and discuss the recently-released LWMP Stage 3 draft plan:

Monday, April 14 @ 7pm
St. David & St. Paul Anglican Church, basement
6310 Sycamore Street

This meeting is not just for Townsite residents – everyone is welcome, although much of the focus will be on how this plan directly affects the historic Townsite.

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FREE EVENT: Why Citizen Engagement Makes for Better Local Government

In light of recent events in the Liquid Waste Management planning process, this presentation seems quite timely.

Powell River Voices is bringing Vancouver-based Public Engagement Specialist Norman Gludovatz to Powell River to give a presentation on why citizen engagement makes for better local government and helps build vibrant communities.

Friday, April 11 @ 7pm
United Church Hall
6932 Crofton (at Michigan)

This is a free event.

In a similar vein, Powell River resident Janet Newbury recently published an excellent article at questioning the current nature of political discourse and how it can be an impediment to citizen engagement.

Finally, I am trying to organize a Townsite Ratepayers Meeting to discuss the LWMP Stage 3 report. Stay tuned!

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Bioremediation Workshops in Townsite

In other news …

Ron Berezan sent a reminder that there are two very exciting bio-remediation workshops coming up at the Sycamore Commons in Townsite this weekend with Leila Darwish (author of Earth Repair – Healing Toxic and Damaged Landscapes):

Friday April 4, 7:00 pm at Townsite Anglican Church/Sycamore Commons will be an overview of grassroots community bio-remediation  initiatives around North America highlighting citizen groups who have clean up water and soil and restored eco-system functioning using bacteria, fungi and plants as healers!

Saturday, April 5, 9:00am – 3:00 pm will be a hands-on bio remediation workshop where we will learn and apply specific remediation techniques while working towards the re-naturalizing of another section of the Sycamore Commons community permaculture site.

Both events are “pay what you can” at the door. Please join us for what sure to be two very inspiring, practical, and super fun sessions!


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Are You Concerned About This?!?

Today, the LWMP Steering Committee voted in favour of the following motion:

‘That the Stage 3 LWMP Draft 6 dated March 2014 be forwarded to Council for Council’s approval and submission to the Ministry of Environment.’

This is despite the timeline from their last meeting (June 2013) that specified there be public communication and a Town Hall meeting prior to the plan going to Council.

Townsite residents will no doubt recall the petition that was presented to Council by TRA representative Karen Skadsheim in May 2011 calling for them to remove Townsite, a nationally recognized historic district, as a site for sewage treatment:

“Let this petition leave no doubt in anyone’s mind:  Townsite residents DO care!  And I would like to take the following assurance from Council to the next meeting:  that they will instruct the LWM Committees not to proceed with the ill-conceived plan of using the old clarifier site and take Townsite off the table, once and for all, as a site consideration for Liquid Waste Management Planning.”

This petition statement was signed by over 300 Townsite residents and was fundamentally the same as the petition statement that was presented to Council in 1997 and which was cited as a key factor to the Townsite being removed from consideration as a sewage treatment site.

Council subsequently approved the following motion in June 2011:

That the old clarifier site be removed as a site for consideration for a Liquid Waste Treatment facility and that the Joint Advisory Committee be advised. 

Unfortunately, the clarifier is included in the Stage 3 LWMP Draft 6 plan that is being put forward to Council, despite the motion assuring otherwise.

The next scheduled Council meeting is April 3; however, there was mention that this report would be put forward at the April 17 meeting, so it is unclear how soon this will go before Council.

The agenda for today’s meeting, including minutes from the last meeting held in June 2013 as well as the full 250+page report can be found here on the City’s website.


If you are concerned about this matter and would like your voice heard, please email or call 604.344.0127

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LWMP Update


On Thursday, the City of Powell River released the 252-page Draft 6 Opus DaytonKnight Ltd. Draft 6 LWMP report 252-page, and the Liquid Waste Management Steering Committee will be meeting:

Monday, March 31 @ 2pm
City Hall, Committee Room

with the following recommendation on the agenda:

‘That the Stage 3 LWMP Draft 6 dated March 2014 be forwarded to Council for Council’s approval and submission to the Ministry of Environment.’

The agenda, including minutes from the last meeting held in June 2013 as well as the full report can be found here on the City’s website.

If approved, this will be the final plan that will be sent to Ministry of Environment for approval.

Of particular interest to Townsite residents in this report is the plan to purchase the Mill’s old clarifier to store sewage in the event of short-term mill shutdown. This information is on Page 4 of the Opus DaytonKnight report (dated March 19, 2014) in Appendix 8: Strategies for Managing City Wastewater During Mill Maintenance Periods & Shutdowns:

“The Mill’s old primary clarifier (currently unused) has a capacity of about 34,000 m. There appears to be enough temporary storage volume available in the Mill’s old primary clarifier to store the City’s current wastewater discharge for a 5 day period.”

I am sure many of you will remember the stink this proposal caused when it was first proposed and the City decided to take the old clarifier out of the equation. Unfortunately, it appears it was not a permanent decision.

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