Oak Bay serious about Uplands sewer solutions

Public input crucial in next steps for mandated water separation

Oak Bay’s provincially mandated sewer separation project in Uplands primarily needs public input to make a next move.

The Uplands neighbourhood currently has a single pipe system to convey both sanitary sewage and storm water.

During heavy rainfall, the volume of water exceeds the capacity of the system, sending overflows into the ocean at the Rutland and Humber pumping stations.

“The idea is to resolve the outflows to the beach,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen.

Separation is also required to comply with BC’s Municipal Wastewater Regulation that all municipalities have separate stormwater and sanitary sewer systems.

Oak Bay plans to mandate sewer separation and connection to the separated municipal sewers when available for new homes in Uplands, to mandate sewer separation for homes undergoing renovations of $100,000 or more and connection to the separated municipal sewers when available and to update its permit fees to reflect current costs.

“We are looking at incentives for homeowners,” Jensen said. “Our goal is to create an incentive for people already separated, to hook up.”

Oak Bay will consider a policy to cover the cost of connecting properties with sewers separated prior to the municipality separating the combined sewers. Those costs would be included in the sewer separation construction contracts.

Because the district has for several years required property owners in the Uplands to separate their services during major renovations or building a new home, 12 per cent of the homes in the Rutland catchment and 39 per cent of the homes in the Humber catchment have separated sewers to the property boundary.

In May, the district hired McElhanney Consulting Services, which developed of six possible options to separate the sewer system. All six assume easements through private property are not in play.

Those easements would uproot significant trees and other green growth in swaths of five metres.

“By staying out of these easements more homes would have more pumps,” said water management consultant Jack Hull.

However, using the existing easements would significantly add to both cost and time, including negotiating two additional metres of easement with private landowners (currently three metres, five are required) as well as devastating five metres of established trees and foliage.

Options include adding a deeper gravity system alongside the existing system; new pumped low-pressure system alongside the existing system; a new shallow-gravity storm water system with municipal pumping stations for roadway runoff; and a hybrid of shallow system pumped where necessary using the existing system.

A series of four public information sessions is planned:

• Saturday, Nov. 7 from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Neighbourhood Learning Centre, Oak Bay High;

• Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club (3475 Ripon Rd.);

• Friday, Nov. 20 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Uplands Campus;

• Saturday, Nov. 21 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Uplands Campus (3461 Henderson Rd.)

The plan is to present information to attendees then solicit feedback, said communications consultant Kathi Springer.

Information boards will show homes already with separated sewers to their property boundary and homes with pumps for the Humber and Rutland catchment areas.

They will also outline the six options as presented to council, with the addition of associated cost estimates which council has not yet seen. “We see this process as an education process,” Springer said, adding there will also be physical pumps on hand for residents to see.

Residents can also offer written comments at the meetings or to the municipality by Dec. 4.

Information is online at oakbay.ca.

“The cost will impact the whole community,” Jensen said.

Council expects a report in January that incorporates the public feedback and cost estimates.