Archive for May, 2011

Please attend the City’s  Liquid Waste Management Steering Committee meeting:

When: 11 AM, Thursday, June 2
Where: City Hall

This meeting is open to the public. Water Watch will be presenting our petition asking Council to reject joint  treatment with Catalyst.

We don’t have your name on the most recent Water Watch petition, and this is your last chance to sign before it is handed in to Council.

You can add your name to the petition online also.

At this Thursday’s meeting, Councillors will decide what they will do with the public input they’ve received. The report on the public consultations stated:

“Input from the community through the Open House and Word Cafe  processes overwhelmingly supports some form of publicly owned  sewage treatment facility for Powell River.  A joint treatment with Catalyst option was rejected on all levels.”

You can see this report at: http://powellriver.fileprosite.com/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=1718

Councillors will also decide on Thursday whether to accept the nearly unanimous recommendation from the Joint Advisory Committee that Powell River should choose a publicly owned and operated sewage system.  The only advisory committee member to oppose this recommendation was the representative of the mill who had originally proposed joint treatment to the City.  The vote was 10 to 1 for a public option.

Urge Councillors to accept the overwhelming feedback from the public consultations and the recommendation from the Advisory Committee in favour a public option for Powell River’s sewage system:

Email councillors at:

salsgard@cdpr.bc.ca; ddee@cdpr.bc.ca; dformosa@cdpr.bc.ca; mhathaway@cdpr.bc.ca; cmcnaughton@cdpr.bc.ca; jpalm@cdpr.bc.ca; apinch@cdpr.bc.ca

or phone
Mayor Stewart Alsgard
(604) 485-4489

Councillor Debbie Dee
(604) 485-0342

Councillor Dave Formosa
(604) 485-6080

Councillor Maggie Hathaway
(604) 485-5087 (h)
(604) 485-1249

Councillor Chris McNaughton
(604) 483-9597 (h)
(604) 414-9549

Councillor Jim Palm
(604) 485-9335 (h)
(604) 483-3171
(604) 414-5960

Councillor Aaron Pinch
604) 485-0888
(ext 115)

And if you have questions about this issue – the costs of different options, the environmental impacts, concerns with privatization –   email us at prwaterwatch@gmail.com


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If you missed it, the facilitator’s report about the public meetings at the JAC meeting last Thursday showed that the public rejected joint treatment at the Catalyst mill in no uncertain terms.  At the same meeting, the JAC voted for a consolidated public facility and to recommend the same to the Steering Committee.

However, there is a special meeting of the JAC to reconsider this vote in favour of a consolidated public facility.  More information is available in this breaking news item from the Peak website.


The agenda for this meeting was not on the City’s website, but hopefully it will be posted here soon.  This is the meeting where the Steering Committee may well make the decision to proceed with joint treatment despite the public’s clear rejection.

There are now more than 1000 names on the Water Watch Coalition petition against joint treatment, so we will be presenting it to the Steering Committee at this meeting.  This is a good follow-up to the facilitator’s report on the public meetings.  If you haven’t signed yet, please click the link above and add your name and thoughts, and please come along to the meeting Thursday to show support.

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“Joint treatment” is the proposal to turn over Powell River municipal sewage   treatment to Catalyst and get rid of the City’s own treatment plants.  The City would have to build a plant to “pre-treat” its sewage before it went to the mill.

Powell River will be stuck with no way to treat its sewage if the mill closes on short notice.  Catalyst has refused to allow Powell River to use its treatment plant if the mill closes. We could have to discharge raw sewage into Malaspina Strait.

No savings on sewage charges – The City’s engineering consultant warned that the City has to be prepared for a mill closure and ensure that the necessary funds are available on short notice to build a new City treatment plant.

City’s estimated costs of joint treatment don’t include risk of mill closing

Willingdon Beach Trail being considered for new sewer line to the mill – construction would cause environmental damage

 Mill ownership keeps changing – MacMillan Bloedel, Pacifica, Norske, Catalyst – Who will be the new owners of Powell River’s sewage system and will they want to change the contract and charge more?

 No plan to disinfect city sewage before it is sent to the mill – potential danger to health of mill workers

 Added costs from privatizing sewage treatment – legal fees and consultants. Whistler rejected privatization of sewage system partly because these costs ballooned to $1.3 million before a contract was ever signed.

Powell River would be going backwards – from tertiary sewage treatment at the Westview plant to secondary.

 Critical information not known – Will the mill’s abandoned clarifier be used? Will the sewer lines be constructed on Willingdon Beach Trail? Will anything be done to protect mill workers from pathogens in city sewage?

The City’s estimates of costs keep changing – they say these estimates are “in flux”

City may have to pay the mill’s owners if their treatment plant is damaged by city sewage

Citizens need to have their say in a referendum on any plan to privatize such a critical municipal service

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