Archive for March, 2014

On Monday, March 31 at 2 PM the City is holding a Liquid Waste Management Steering Committee Meeting – open to the public – at City Hall. At this meeting, Councillors will vote on a recommendation to give final approval to co-treatment, the plan to transfer treatment of the city’s sewage to Catalyst.

The final version of the 252 page co-treatment plan was only made public on March 27. The full agenda, including the plan can be found here on the City’s website.

Some key points to raise at this meeting, or by emailing City Councillors are:

– Going back on their promise not to do co-treatment without paying for it with a grant.

 Councillors promised in 2011 they would only approve co-treatment if they got a 100% grant to pay for it.[1] The grant was turned down. Now they are planning to implement co-treatment even if they don’t get any money at all from senior governments and Powell River taxpayers have to pay the entire $10,065,000 cost.[2]  This would require a steep hike in the annual sewer charge.

If the mill shuts down in the near future, the City will have depleted its sewer reserve by spending on co-treatment, have to build its own public plant in short order when grants may not be available, and have wasted $1.7 million connecting the City sewer lines to the mill.

– Ignoring public consultation.

Rather than a “stop gap” measure for the City until it can build its own plant, the plan says co-treatment will last until 2032 and only then is Council considering building a public plant.[3]

The Joint Advisory Committee appointed by Council rejected co-treatment in favour of the City building its own plant.  The City’s public consultation results showed that 72% preferred that City build its own plant and 11% opted for co-treatment.  Yet the final version of the plan claims it is based on “the public feedback received” and that “effective public consultation” is essential to develop municipal sewage plans.  [4]

– Harming the environment
Co-treatment would result in Powell River being able to get away with lowering its standard for sewage treatment – the provincial Ministry of the Environment would allow the lower industrial standard to be apply rather than the higher municipal one.  The test results for mill treatment of City sewage showed that fecal coliform counts would be far beyond what is acceptable for recreational use.

The final plan also includes the potential for dumping raw sewage directly into the ocean during planned  temporary mill shutdowns.  The raw sewage could be stored in an enormous abandoned “clarifier” that the City would buy from the mill. [5]The abandoned clarifier is located close to homes on Marine.

Worse, the use of the City’s sewer reserve fund to pay for co-treatment and the planned dismantling of its Westview treatment plant means raw sewage could have to be dumped into the ocean in the event of a mill shutdown.

On March 17 at the sewer budget meeting the Mayor revealed that the City still does not have guaranteed access to the mill’s treatment plant if Catalyst goes bankrupt.  The City still does not know if Catalyst’s treatment plant can even work if it is only treating City sewage. Yet the City is planning on giving final approval to this plan without these and other key facts.

If you cannot attend Monday’s meeting but wish to voice your concerns, Councillor’s emails are:





You could also send a letter to The Peak: editor@prpeak.com


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