Uplands sewer separation affects all residents

District of Oak Bay hosts final open house Monday, Nov. 30

Final open house Monday, Nov. 30

The recent heavy rain storms are a stark reminder of the responsibility the District of Oak Bay and our citizens have under the provincial government’s Municipal Wastewater Regulation to separate the existing combined stormwater and sanitary sewer system in the Uplands neighbourhood.

We are obliged to separate the two pipes because combined flows during heavy rains overwhelm the two pump stations at Humber Road and Rutland Road, and raw sewage overflows in the shallow ocean waters.

When the Uplands neighbourhood was designed over a century ago, a network of easements was introduced along the sides and backs of properties where the single pipe infrastructure was placed, maximizing the influence of the area’s topography to allow for a gravity system. A wider easement would be required to install a second pipe and the wider easement would have to be cleared of all vegetation and fences. The six options being examined exclude the use of easements in the solutions.

This month, more than 200 Oak Bay residents attended one or more of the four open houses to review the options and test assumptions directly with project engineers and district staff. We are fortunate to have many residents with expertise, and this opportunity to convene around this project has allowed for constructive dialogue that will help strengthen a recommendation to council in the new year. Conversations to date have touched on the merits and challenges of trench construction, the capital costs to Oak Bay taxpayers, the possibility of directional drilling, the opportunity for stormwater management solutions and the desire to see a solution that takes a long-term view with maximum environmental and community benefit.

This is a complex infrastructure initiative that requires careful and thoughtful consideration of project benefits and impacts. It’s not easy and we want to hear from you. Council is grateful to all those who have given their time, expertise and passion to this important project to date, and the district is hosting one more open house Monday, Nov. 30 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the municipal hall.

If you’re unable to attend in person, all information presented at the open houses is on the district’s website, including a public opinion survey that can be downloaded or completed online. The online survey is also available in hard copy at the municipal hall and will be at the open house. All project surveys must be completed and handed in by Dec. 4.  While this project will take place in the Uplands over several years, the capital costs on municipal property will affect everyone.

Options being examined reflect a range of total project capital costs from $13.9 million to $20.7 million. Options include:

• a new deeper gravity sanitary sewer system. The existing pipes would carry stormwater;

• a new deeper gravity system for storm water. The existing pipes would carry sanitary sewage;

• a low-pressure shallow sanitary sewer system. The existing pipes would carry stormwater;

• shallow, gravity stormwater sewers pumped where necessary. The existing pipes would carry sanitary sewage;

• shallow, gravity sanitary sewer system pumped where necessary. The existing pipes would carry stormwater;

• shallow gravity sanitary sewer system with community sanitary pump systems where necessary. The existing pipes would carry stormwater.

Further community engagement will take place in January followed by the finalization of the technical report. A recommendation from district staff for a single option will be presented to council in the new year for consideration and decision.

The project will proceed to detailed design in 2016. It’s anticipated this project will be phased in over several years based on available funding. Compliance with the provincial regulation is mandatory for the District of Oak Bay as it is for other jurisdictions in the province.

Visit the district website at oakbay.ca to view the project information and complete the survey. Council thanks you for your time and attention on this important project. We want to hear from you.

Nils Jensen,

Mayor, District of Oak Bay

 

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