Letter: Sewer treatment property purchase referendum vs. common sense

Editor:

A Skidegate Landing neighbourhood meeting to discuss the upcoming sewer treatment property purchase referendum was held Nov. 4, with the mayor attending. Numerous questions from residents regarding feasibility studies were left unanswered, other than the mayor stating studies would take place later, if the referendum were approved.

Some of the notable comments from the meeting include:

• The accessible timber on the property is low-value second growth – the more valuable timber is in steep inaccessible areas negating financial return;

• Costs associated with subdivision development would be very high and not likely recoverable from reasonable sale prices of building lots

Development of this property was described as “building on tiered rice-paddy terraces”. Concern was expressed about possible sewage spillage leaching into neighbouring private wells. Interest cost for the loan add about $450,000 to the purchase price of $ 625,000

Insistent requests from the public resulted in a public meeting on Nov. 23 with mayor and council to question and discuss the Feb. 24 referendum. Over 60 people attended. The response to most questions was, “We don’t know. We can’t obtain grants for studies until the village owns the land.”

Public misgivings expressed included those above and further detailed negative comments:

• There is insufficient available water from the Honna River and the back-up wells during dry periods for extending service to the subject property and including all QC residents, making additional servicing impractical;

• No geotechnical studies of land stability have been done even though a recent nearby slide took out power and closed the highway

The 2010 Dayton & Knight feasibility study did not consider the property as a sewage treatment site;

• Subject to approval in the referendum, the agreed price of $ 625,000 for the property contrasts with the February 2017 listed price of $525,000.

When a question of how to terminate the referendum was asked no public objection was raised…

Unfortunately, once enacted the referendum by provincial law must proceed at the cost of more than $20,000 plus village staff time and efforts.

Clearly the subject property of the Feb. 24 referendum is unsuitable for either a sewage treatment plant and/or residential lot development. This grandiose, never-to-be-achieved scheme deserves a “No” vote in the referendum.

However, discharging raw sewage into Bearskin Bay is a concern. We’ve been told a sewage treatment plant for 3,000 people is “standard for a small community” – poppycock. Sewage from about 800 people and perhaps 100 seasonal tourists is discharged into Bearskin Bay. There are sewage treatment plants in a variety of sizes and types suitable for those population numbers which are unlikely to increase decades into an uncertain future.

The 2010 Dayton & Knight feasibility study recommends the “Central Area” as a preferred location for a treatment plant. Suitable for this recommendation, the village council in 2011 purchased property for $ 150,000 within the “Central Area” adjacent the helipad.

It’s time to return to such common-sense planning toward ending the discharge of raw sewage into Bearskin Bay.

Ron McKee

Queen Charlotte

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