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Regional district to try again on Quadra Island sewer

A project to extend sewer service to homes on Quadra Island may be put to a referendum after the Strathcona Regional District failed to get enough project support through a petition.

The expansion, if approved, would provide sewer service to 53 properties in the Quathiaski Cove area, near the B.C. Ferries terminal.

The project was prompted by several requests from Quadra property owners, who have had to deal with ongoing septic failure.

But a petition circulated by the Strathcona Regional District through March and April came back negative.

“In order to meet the threshold for approval on this basis the petition would have required at least 50 per cent of the affected properties to consent in writing,” said Brian Reardon, regional district chief administrator, in a report to the regional district board.

“The petition failed to attract that level of support from property owners.”

Only 30 per cent of the properties in question gave their approval to a project that would cost each property owner $18,400 in a one-time payment or a $1,400 - $1,600 parcel tax for 20 years.

Now the regional district is looking at the best way to move forward with the estimated $975,200 project.

Regional district board members are waiting on a report from regional district staff outlining the development of a community engagement process and other ways to gage the level of support for the proposed sewer extension project.

One option could be a referendum.

“A vote of the electors could be used to conclusively determine the outcome of the extension proposal,” Reardon said. “In this case, the determination of whether or not the regional district could proceed with the bylaws would depend on the number of ‘yes’ votes in comparison to the number of ‘no’ votes cast, regardless of the number of electors who vote.”

Another option is the alternative approval process.

Unlike a referendum, which gives everyone the opportunity to cast a vote, the alternative approval process would allow the regional district to proceed with the sewer project unless more than 10 per cent of the electors advise the regional district it would like to instead have a referendum.

A third option is tweaking the boundaries of the project.

“If opposition to the project is confined to specific areas the board could adjust the boundaries of the proposed extension area and authorize another petition process be undertaken,” said Reardon who noted the regional district first needs to look at how likely each approval process would be to succeed before making any decisions.

“At this time it is not known whether the lack of success using the petition method was due to opposition or apathy on the part of property owners, and the level of support experienced to date may not inspire further efforts by the regional district to continue leading on this project,” Reardon said.

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