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Collapse of sewer deal with City of Campbell River frustrates resident

The city’s recent announcement that it won’t provide sewer service to neighbourhoods south of the city limits is frustrating one resident who is fed up with his local government’s failure to secure the project.

“This project was not complicated,” said Mark Treacy, a resident of Area D (Crawford Road/Oyster Bay) who stood to benefit from a new sewer system. “Municipalities implement these projects and complete them all the time. How a small group in the regional district can live with themselves by purposely choosing to poison the environment...is the lowest form of human development possible.”

The Strathcona Regional District, which governs Area D, has been negotiating with the city since 2006 to connect 172 homes in the Ocean Grove and Crawford Loop neighbourhoods to the city’s sewer system but has been unable to come to an agreement. The city said it was forced to pull out because the two parties could not reach a deal that would recover all city costs.

Brenda Leigh, regional director representing Area D, said last week the city’s Oct. 11, 2011 offer of $22,000 was too high – more than double the $9,350 that Area D residents approved at a referendum in 2006.

Since then, the regional district has secured $5.1 million in federal and provincial grant funding and is expected to spend $8,000 of its own money in 2012.

The regional district approved $6,500 in its financial plan for in-house staff engineering, as well as another $1,500 for a study conducted by an outside engineer.

Leigh said the regional district has those up-to-date plans now in its possession and plans to present them to Northern Area D residents sometime in the fall. But Treacy is skeptical.

“For as long as the director of Area D has maintained her seat, there has been the proverbial carrot dangled in front of her constituents,” he said. “Six years ago a referendum was held and the residents voted with majority vote to resolve the sewer issue knowing this was in the best interest of Beautiful British Columbia. After six years there have been proposed studies, none of which have surfaced in respect to moving forward with the sewer project.”

Treacy said he’s desperate to get off his septic system and is disappointed with the lack of progress.

“The need for a sewer system is a real fact,” he said. “There is a study showing numerous septic failures allowing for human fecal matter to flow freely into roadside ditches, creeks and streams. The lawn surface on the residence adjacent to mine during summer months flows of this same waste.

“Now we stand at a crossroads where the sewer project and its provincial and federal directives have been thwarted. The will of the people has been met with slight regard and ignorance.”

Leigh, however, said she did consult with her constituents after the city’s $22,000 offer last fall.

“I took their proposal door-to-door and found that there was no substantial public support in Northern Area D,” Leigh said. “Campbell River’s former proposal would put the cost of connection to the city system out of reach for the average Northern Area D resident.”

She said the city was not willing to budge on its offer and accommodate Area D.

“Campbell River has not demonstrated any willingness to negotiate since sending out a proposed draft agreement which would have charged each household in Area D more than $22,000. Staff tried to re-negotiate after the (November municipal) election, but it would appear that no acceptable agreement could be reached.”

Leigh said the regional district still plans to keep moving forward with the project.

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