News briefs from Port Clements council

A building/fire inspector, sewage issues, and old plans for an industrial road were on the agenda.

Shared inspector

All Haida Gwaii villages are looking at the idea of a shared building and fire inspector.

Proposed by the North Coast Regional District, the first step is to do a study outlining the scope of the job, and how the cost of the service might be shared.

In Port Clements last week, councillors were warm to the idea but voted to ask the regional district what the study would cost before going further.

Kim Mushynsky, chief administrative officer, said her best guess is the feasibility study will cost a few thousand dollars. Whether or not the villages can afford an inspector depends how many sign up.

“At this point, if we don’t get at least the three municipalities and somebody else, I don’t think this will be feasible,” she said, noting that Skidegate, Old Massett, and the regional district are also reviewing the idea.

“If all those people go in on this, it’s probably something we can afford to do.”

Sewage drain

It’s unclear yet, but Port Clements may need a pricey fix for its sewage treatment lagoon.

An aerator that helps dissolve the sewage faster recently failed.

It could cost $28,000 or more to replace, but that’s not the only issue, said Sean O’Donoghue, superintendent of public works.

Strangely, when the aerator stopped, conditions in the treatment lagoon actually got better — the amount of suspended solids was above compliance levels before it failed, then fell below again.

“We think that perhaps the aerator was too powerful,” said Kim Mushysnky, chief administrative officer, noting there is no evidence it was engineered to size.

Staff recommended the councillors wait for a second sewage test before taking action.

“What’s coming down the pipe is that we may get pressured into making some decisions — including an engineering review — and I guarantee you that will be more expensive than the water system, and it’s going to be more compelling to do,” said O’Donoghue, adding that the province is stepping up its effluent rules.

De-sludging the lagoon, which the province has suggested before, could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.

“I’m concerned, because I boat across from the end of that pipe quite frequently, and something I have my mouth open,” said Councillor Doug Daugert, laughing.

“I would suggest you have nothing to worry about,” said O’Donoghue, adding that the village’s small population and lack of industrial waste mean its effluent is relatively clean.

No way thru-way

Port Clements council quickly dismissed an old plan for a road that would divert logging trucks around the village.

First floated in the 1980s, the suggested route conflicts with the recently installed Community Trail. Some councillors also questioned whether it was even needed given that logging trucks are mostly shifting to routes away from Bayview Drive anyway.

On the village Facebook page, residents who previewed the May 15 meeting agenda commented that the plan was “ridiculous,” and were “appalled” councillors would consider putting an industrial road by the new walking trail.

At the meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Kim Mushynsky explained that a grant for such roadbuilding happened to come up, and because the old proposal was still on council’s to-do list, it was put on the agenda to think about.

As it turned out, councillors agreed the route was badly outdated, though another route, and a gravel road, may be possible.

Newly elected Mayor Urs Thomas said he campaigned in part on having better communication with the public, adding that such a topic would certainly have to go to a public meeting before council could make a decision.

Although councillors voted down the route presented, Thomas suggested they revisit the idea of a by-pass with a public meeting this fall.