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City proposes sewer connection deal for Oyster River area

The final piece of the Ocean Grove area sewer puzzle may soon fall into place.

The City of Campbell River submitted a proposal to connect its sewer system with Area D, which includes the Ocean Grove and Crawford Road area, said Brenda Leigh, Strathcona Regional District Director for Area D.

“This connection agreement is the final piece in the engineered service for 172 homes between the Ocean Grove and Crawford neighbourhoods,” Leigh said.

“There is $5.27 million approved in our capital budget for the project to be delivered in 2012, but there needs to be a connection to a treatment facility. If the city intends to charge an unreasonable connection fee or if their connections to do not comply with our bylaws for this service, then our staff will be reviewing these matters with them.”

Leigh said the city’s proposal, which was received by the Regional District on Oct. 10, is being discussed between both the city and the Regional District.

“The first proposal contains a connection fee and other clauses which would result in a cost to my residents of much more than was authorized,” Leigh said.

“Therefore, our regional staff will be further negotiating the terms with the city.”

On June 10, 2006 Area D residents voted in a referendum that, if approved, would allow the Regional District to borrow $11.6 million, financed over a 25-year period, for the collection, conveyance and disposal of sewage in the northern half of Area D.

Residents ended up approving, by a 52 per cent margin, a maximum amount of $9,300 or $781 per annum per lot, and two-thirds of that amount had to be matched by grants from the provincial and federal governments.

Leigh said once the results of the referendum were known, she lobbied the provincial and federal governments for funding.

On March 18, 2008 Member of Parliament for the North Island John Duncan, and MP George Abbott, announced $3.4 million in funding for phase one.

“From there, the Regional District contracted an engineer who has been working on this and other utilities which are under the Regional District’s management, such as the Quathiaski Cove sewer system and our water systems,” Leigh said.

The sewer project will provide a community sewer system for properties between Ocean Grove Road and the Crawford Loop.

Subsequent phases down the road, will extend the project southward to include Mittlenatch, Stories Beach and York Road subdivisions.

“Obviously, this Northern Area D service needs to meet the requirements that our citizens voted for at referendum,” Leigh said. “This connection issue needs to be resolved and our Regional CAO (Chief Administrative Officer), Brian Reardon, has assured me that regional staff will be coming to the Ocean Grove/Crawford neighbourhoods with further details.

“This clearly seems like an opening offer and negotiations are ongoing.”

Leigh said once the connection proposal is worked out, the project plans will be presented to Area D residents.

“If the costs of the connection are too high, we may need to look at other alternatives,” Leigh said.

“In any case, I do not believe that the Regional District could legally proceed with any costs that are beyond what was approved by my residents through the referendum. This is a very ambitious project and, more than anything, I would like to re-iterate that we require major capital grants of two-thirds of the total cost to be forthcoming from the federal/provincial governments to deliver the project further south into Mittlenatch (Phase two).”

The Strathcona Regional District will host public information meetings regarding the project, dates still to be determined.

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