District of Sooke

District of Sooke eyes end to EPCOR contract

Cost saving expected up to $225,000 a year: report

Sooke council is making moves to end its contract with EPCOR for the district’s wastewater treatment system, saying it could save up to $225,000 per year by assuming responsibility for the operation.

“Total cost savings over a five-year period could total up to $1,127,630. These funds could be set-aside in a reserve fund with monies allocated to system improvements and projected growth,” chief administrative officer Teresa Sullivan said in a report to council Tuesday.

The district must give EPCOR six months notice that it won’t renew the contract.

The Sooke wastewater collection and treatment system is owned by the district and operated by EPCOR, a subsidiary of the City of Edmonton. The system services the core area of Sooke.

The district spends approximately $1.15 million a year for wastewater treatment. If the district takes over the system those costs could drop to $922,968.

EPCOR built the wastewater treatment centre in 2004 under a design-build-operate contract. Its current five-year contract expires on Sept. 30.

“Bringing the services in-house would eliminate the profit margin in the fixed fee of services charged by the contractor,” said acting mayor Rick Kasper, before last night’s council meeting.

The district owns the wastewater treatment centre and the collection system. If there was a failure in the system the district would be found liable. EPCOR only incurs maintenance costs under $5,000.

“This new arrangement would give greater flexibility without jacking up the rates,” Kasper said.

“I’m looking at this from a dollar and cents side. There is no additional risk whatsoever to the District of Sooke.”

There are three people who work full-time at the EPCOR facility on West Coast Road. There is also a pro-rated management position shared with other Island facilities run by EPCOR. Under the district’s control, those positions would become unionized positions with CUPE B.C., and the management position would be eliminated.

Labour costs would jump from $324,819 to $327,941 with CUPE.

The district cannot renew its current contract with EPCOR unless it gains voter approval through a referendum or counter petition. The vote would cost the district $30,000 and take at least three months to complete, Sullivan said.

There are also no opportunities to tender a request for proposals from other providers, she added, as the district must provide non-renewal notice to EPCOR six months in advance of the end date (March 29).