The city’s withdrawal of an offer to provide sewer services to homes south of the city limits is “disappointing” but not unexpected, according to Strathcona Regional District Director Brenda Leigh.
“Clearly, it does not have the capacity to extend us this service and it’s great that they are finally able to admit this so that the region can move on with its own plans,” said Leigh, director representing Area D (Ocean Grove to Oyster River). “In one way, I am relieved that Campbell River is withdrawing itself from the project.”
The regional district has been trying to work out an agreement with the city since 2006 to connect 172 homes in the Ocean Grove and Crawford Loop neighbourhoods to the city’s sewer system.
In a 2006 referendum, residents said yes to borrowing $9,350 each. Properties benefiting from the sewer service would cover those costs in either one lump sum or spread out over a 25-year period. The regional district also received $3.4 million in provincial and federal grant funding for the project, estimated at $5.1 million.
Leigh said she was presented with a draft agreement from the city on Oct. 11, 2011, with a $22,000 proposal – more than double what was approved at the referendum.
“Frankly, I know that the city is struggling financially, but they cannot expect the regional district to provide far more for this project than what was approved,” Leigh said.
“Campbell River has not demonstrated any willingness to negotiate since sending out a proposed draft agreement…our staff tried to re-negotiate…but it would appear that no acceptable agreement could be reached.”
The city was the first to drop the bombshell when it issued a press release Tuesday morning announcing it had pulled out of the project.
For Area D residents, the lack of progress is frustrating.
“At this time, one can only suspect that perhaps this project may have been fatigued into non-existence,” Mark Treacy wrote in an e-mail.
But Leigh said the regional district’s engineer re-evaluated the sewer project a couple of months ago and has up-to-date plans and costs which regional district staff plan to present to the public of Northern Area D sometime in the fall.