Five-year deal for EPCOR

District of Sooke signs agreement for wastewater treatment

When 20 per cent of the electorate signed a petition to say they were against a 21-year deal with EPCOR, Sooke’s sewer operations and management provider, the die was cast.

Concerned residents and taxpayers felt the deal was too long and they wanted to see an open tendering process. They also wanted the district to consider an in-house operation of the sewage treatment plant.

At the District of Sooke council meeting on Monday, Aug. 8, council voted to negotiate a five-year operating and maintenance (O &M) agreement with the current provider, EPCOR. The only councillor not in favour was Councillor Herb Haldane.

None of the comments made by the public had any impact on the consequent decision.

Trevor Davis, from the Canadian Union of Public Employees  (CUPE), stated that the ability to secure monopoly agreements were a “goldmine” for companies and municipalities should be taking action to regain control of public services. He hoped for the evolution of the idea — service to the public by the public.

Don Brown said that “we are in a time in history where the community needs to come together and work cooperatively.”

He proposed an objective evaluation of the agreement with EPCOR and to take the time to move out of the social/political arena and to set up an evaluation process using professionals in the community, with input from all parties.

Dave and Carol Mallett both praised EPCOR and the 21-year agreement. Dave Mallet said that 80 per cent of the electorate did not have a say on the Alternate Approval Process ballot.

“It’s unfair that those who vote do not pay, they should not have a say,” said Dave Mallet.

It was council that decided that this was the manner in which they would proceed.

Others questioned the accuracy of the AAP and the costs of a public works department. A few asked for a referendum.

District CAO Evan Parliament opened up the council discussion, prior to the vote, by stating that time was of the essence as the current contract expires on September 30, 2011.

Council had four options to consider. The first was a referendum in the upcoming municipal election to garner the opinion of the electorate on the question regarding entering into a 21-year wastewater agreement. The cost was estimated to be $40,000.

Mayor Janet Evans said she was concerned with voter apathy. She also said that the majority of the $40,000 would go to public engagement expense.

Option two was to enter into a two-year O&M agreement with an automatic one-year renewal up to five years with a cost of $225,559.31 for the remainder of 2011. (Annual cost $906,237.24).

The third option, which council chose, was to enter into a five-year agreement with the operating fees for 2012-2015 to be finalized.

Option four would have seen the district look at an in-house operation. This would have meant hiring an independent consultant to perform a comprehensive public sector comparator, at a cost of approx. $40,000.

Councillor David Bennett read a prepared statement where he said there was a concerted effort “to discredit  the research, the consultation, the community networking, the media releases, the availability of all the information for public consumption and consideration, on the part of district staff, and the informed decision-making of the majority of council.”

 

Coun. Sheila Beech said there were false statements being made, which was “disappointing.” She said the “water group” people were “playing political games.”

She asked Gail Hall who was sitting in the gallery, whether the petitions had been scanned.

Coun. Maja Tait said she supported the option of a referendum as well as a five-year agreement. She said she believed in progress and that future councils should consider a municipal services department.

Coun. Herb Haldane said he didn’t think the system (sewer) was checked properly and he was entitled to disagree with the rest of council as it was a free country. He said he thought a referendum would prove once and for all what the taxpayers wanted.

Coun. Ron Dumont didn’t think the district could operate the sewer treatment plant themselves.

“We have the back up of the whole empire of EPCOR… a 21-year plan was our best effort. He said he supported the five-year agreement.

Mayor Janet Evans said “our system is award-winning,” and in the case of a previous referendum

 

Sooke was five years behind because of the failure of the  road referendum. She said Sooke didn’t even have the capacity of operate its own road maintenance. She declared her support for option three, the five-year agreement with EPCOR.

Wendal Milne, one of the organizers working to stop the proposed 21-year deal with EPCOR and the district said he was “disappointed.” He said he would have preferred a two-year deal.

“It was a democratic process and it puts it to be for awhile. It’s better than a 21-year deal, at least the democratic process was followed.”

As to the comments that misinformation was spread about prior to the tally of the AAP ballots, Milne stated, “we only used documents supplied by the District of Sooke, It was solely their documents and if they were erroneous they came from their own documents.”

 

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Camp Barnard during the 2019 Pacific Jamboree. (Photo: Camp Barnard)
Camp Barnard near Sooke hopes fundraiser will help it progress on accessibility goals

I Care ‘Bout Camp challenge hopes to raise $100,000 for new lodge, replaced kitchen

The WHL’s Victoria Royals will compete in a 24-game season starting March 26, <strong></strong>based out of a Kamloops and Kelowna B.C. division bubble (Kevin Light/Courtesy Victoria Royals)
‘Important to cherish every moment’: Victoria Royals not taking bubble season for granted

The Victoria WHL team’s coach and GM calls the season a ‘privilege,’ expects fierce rivalries

The Victoria Fire Department was able to contain a fire to one room after a bed placed directly against a heater ignited. (Black Press Media file photo)
Early morning Victoria balcony fire causes $20,000 in damages

Victoria Fire Department said nobody was injured in the fire on View Street

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

Alphabet Zoo Early Learning Centre wants to relocate from Langford to 3322 Fulton Rd. in Colwood, but has not been approved for a P-6 zoning by Colwood council. Residents who neighbour the property, have expressed concern to the Goldstream Gazette regarding the potential daycare site. Neighbours Ryan Landa and Selene Winchester said the noise of construction has been disruptive to the area, and the property is not suitable for a daycare. (Photo contributed/Ryan Landa)
Proposed West Shore daycare stirs up controversy amongst neighbours

Neighbouring property owners are concerned about traffic, noise that a daycare would bring to the area

Const. Nancy Saggar, who has 11 years in policing, offers advice for other women who may pursue both policing and family. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pregnancy prompts sage advice from RCMP officer for women thinking about policing

West Shore constable with 11 years experience heads off on maternity leave

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Hannah Ankenmann, who works with k’awat’si Economic Development Corporation, winces as she received her first shot of the Pfizer vaccine administered by a Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Family Health nurse. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Vancouver Island’s small remote towns to get community-wide vaccine clinics

Island Health to take a wholesale approach to immunization, rather than age-based appointments

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.
21-year-old motorbike rider dies after crash with ATV on Nanaimo back road

Incident happened Sunday afternoon near Boomerang Lake

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complains about that condo

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. A joint federal and B.C. government housing program announced today aims to help people living in up to 25,000 vulnerable households pay their rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Benefits for those not eligible for B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program or Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Cole Moore with one of his sisters, Jasmin Moore. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island man looks to brain surgery for second chance

Fingers crossed that procedure can give Cole Moore a new lease on life after decade of seizures

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

Most Read