Delta turns down TFN sewer offer

Delta turns down TFN sewer offer

By Adrian MacNair – South Delta Leader
Published: November 06, 2012 5:00 PM
Updated: November 07, 2012 9:58 AM

Delta will not be selling its South Delta force main to Metro Vancouver to help with the sewer capacity needs of the Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN), following a council decision Monday (Nov. 4).

TFN presented a proposal Oct. 19 for the transfer of ownership of the asset from Delta to the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District (GVSDD) for $3 million in compensation.

Delta’s Chief Administrative Officer George Harvie said that although Delta has always been willing to work with TFN, as evidenced by nine serving agreements between the two local governments, it was not prepared to sell a taxpayer-funded asset.

“We would lose the autonomy of our line,” said Harvie to council. “If there was a dispute, this line would go to arbitration.”

Harvie’s report showed that the force main and associated pump stations represented a significant investment by Delta taxpayers, with a total historical cost of over $27 million and maintenance and improvement costs of $9 million.

“This line was put in the ground by Delta taxpayers when the GVRD [Greater Vancouver Regional District] wouldn’t do it,” said Mayor Lois Jackson, adding it’s a Delta taxpayer asset and it can’t be simply sold off.

“It is in our best interests to advise TFN we are not approving any sale to Metro Vancouver,” said Harvie, adding it’s not up to Delta to come up with solutions for TFN’s mega malls.

Harvie’s comment is in reference to TFN’s land use plan to build out numerous commercial and residential developments over the next 20 years that will require a considerable upgrade to their sewage requirements.

Delta has maintained a sewage capacity based on its official community plan (OCP) growth projections, which historically have been low in South Delta, or in the case of Tsawwassen have even declined over the past 30 years.

A sewage capacity report prepared by Omni Engineering in July found the sewer system from South Delta to the Annacis Island treatment plant has sufficient capacity to deal with Delta’s projected needs, but not reserve capacity for TFN’s long-term plans.

Delta agreed to to a five-year interim deal with TFN in 2010, with an understanding that the future needs of the community will have to be worked out with the GVSDD. TFN became a member of the GVSDD earlier this year following a request to the province.

TFN’s Chief Administrative Officer Doug Raines said on Tuesday (Nov. 5) he received the report from Delta, and has asked for a meeting to see if the Corporation will reconsider.

“The report says there has to be further capital works done on the line and we’re saying we’d cover that,” said Raines. “And then we’ve been trying to get specific information on what Delta felt the appropriate line costs were.”

Raines said there’s currently an offer on the table submitted to both Delta and the GVSDD for $13.5 million.

“I think we can appreciate Delta’s position now. The value of the line is something we have to discuss.”

Council voted Monday to resolve not to enter into any agreement with TFN or Metro Vancouver transferring Delta sewage assets.

“In the same way [TFN] has to look after its residents, Delta has to look after its residents,” said Coun. Sylvia Bishop.

Although Delta has good relations with TFN, it can’t put their interests ahead of Delta taxpayers, she added.

The report indicates the total replacement cost of Delta’s sewer infrastructure is estimated at $60 million.

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COMMENT:
This issue is going to get very V-E-R-Y interesting.
The TFN deal has stunk since day one. IMHO, this was a multi-faceted plan decades in the plann…..aka (i) Roberts Bank was constructed in the 1960’s (ii) Much of the surrounding land was later frozen in the ALR ….(iii) TFN  lands where in the immediate vicinity.  IMHO…no coincidence, all integrated.
The main agenda simply waited till the time was ripe.
Recent news reports announce a huge expansion of Roberts Bank…after of course the other issues were dealt with.
The TFN..coincidentally as part of a Treaty Settlement..was given 100’s of acres of frozen ALR land. The land was subsequently removed from the ALR. The TFN was also removed from Reserve Status  and became an autonomous Local Gov’t.
Within a few years after this, we see plans for approx. 2,000 homes, a new Destination Mall….and of course TFN land that will be used to facilitate port etc. related activities.
If the TFN did not exist there, I doubt this deal would have happened, ie the TFN was a very convenient “pawn” in the bigger agenda.
Now…one more minor detail…..sanitary sewer hook up. This is CRUCIAL to any major development.  This is the key and politics often enters into it.   This sewer issue is often an insidious tool ( weapon? ) control and stifle development.
A while back, while doing some research on “Hansard”….I came across what I saw was what I will refer to as ” bundled ” legislation. While some issues grab a lot of headlines and follow a lot of scrutiny, others slip under the radar screen. At times several different pieces of legislation  are passed at once.   I came across a piece of legislation that makes a pre – emptive strike on the TFN Developments and the Sanitary Sewer issue.
In essence, IF Metro Vancouver and Delta cannot come to an agreement with the TFN to hook up the Sanitary Sewer…then the BC Gov’t will effectively step in and FORCE the issue.
The system is usually set up as follows…The Local Gov’t is responsible for the majority of the sanitary sewer infrastructure ( gravity drains,force mains, pumping stations ….but ultimately these hook up into a major trunk sewer that Metro Vancouver owns …….which then feeds to the treatment plants.
It appears that Delta is not able nor willing to share current infrastructure capacity with the TFN.  The rationale seems reasonable given Delta had long term spans and the TFN was not part of it.
QUOTE:
” Delta has maintained a sewage capacity based on its official community plan (OCP) growth projections, which historically have been low in South Delta, or in the case of Tsawwassen have even declined over the past 30 years.

 

 

A sewage capacity report prepared by Omni Engineering in July found the sewer system from South Delta to the Annacis Island treatment plant has sufficient capacity to deal with Delta’s projected needs, but not reserve capacity for TFN’s long-term plans.”

 

I fail to see why Metro Vancouver ( which is actually most of us in Greater Vancouver ) wishes to purchase this or why Deltas would even consider it. There is no benefit to Delta…”business is business”…..the TFN will   act as a black hole to Delta tax base and other revenues.

However, as noted earlier…this is where it gets interesting.

The BC Gov’t seems to have anticipated some sort of gridlock on this sewer issue ,  however it manifests itself. In fact, the gridlock could all be for “show”…this is all scripted……so that it triggers the BC Gov’t legislation to force the issue.  This issue will be resolved in the TFN’s favour…, not if …but when. Given we have a Provincial Election in May 2012 bet on the hammer come down between now and then.

Thus……..Another great day in the classic  political theatre .

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