About the Comox Valley Sewer Service Liquid Waste Management Plan
The Comox Valley Sewer Service treats raw sewage (wastewater) from homes and businesses in Courtenay, Comox and K’ómoks First Nation. More than 14,000 cubic metres of wastewater from these communities flows daily through a pipe located along the Willemar Bluffs. This is an exposed section of beach that is vulnerable to damage by waves, rocks and logs and poses an environmental risk beaches and waters throughout the Comox Estuary, Point Holmes and Goose Spit coastline, as well as Baynes Sound.
The CVRD has been working on a long-term plan for the Comox Valley Sewer System with active community engagement since 2018. This Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP) will ensure that this system receives the upgrades it needs to operate safely and grow with our community.
Preferred Conveyance Option Selected
On February 23, 2021 the sewage commission approved a plan to upgrade the pipes and pump stations that move wastewater to the sewage treatment plant. The preferred option (previously Option 2) will be constructed and funded in one phase and involves a combination of cut and cover construction (trenching) and directional drilling (a type of tunneling) from the Courtenay Pump Station to the Treatment Plant located on Brent Road.
A conceptual drawing of the preferred route is below. It includes tunneling under large hills and removing all foreshore sewage pipes as soon as possible. Key features of this selected option are:
- A mix of tunneled sections (under Comox Ave. and Lazo hills) with traditional ‘cut-and-cover’ trenched installation along Dyke Road and through the Town of Comox. The tunneling will minimize construction impact and operational pressure on the system, in order to reduce cost and risk over the life of the project.
- Work to be undertaken as one phase, to reduce operational risk by decommissioning aging infrastructure as soon as possible.
Final alignment will be determined during detailed design and will focus on minimizing costs and impacts on residents and businesses. Discussions are underway with the Town of Comox regarding the final route, infrastructure replacement standards and community impacts. The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) will also work with the K’ómoks First Nation to protect archaeologically sensitive areas during construction in an effort to preserve cultural heritage sites, ancestral burial places and artifacts.
How will it be funded?
The project is anticipated to cost $73 million with an estimated 80-year service life for the new pipe. The cost per household is estimated at $150/per year for 30 years. Funding will include approximately $21 million from reserves and $52 million in debt to ensure costs are spread out between current and future taxpayers over the 30-year term. Public approval for the borrowing will be sought through the CVRD’s annual Alternative Approval Process taking place from June 3 to July 5, 2021. An AAP is a cost effective and responsible way to seek voter approval for a critical infrastructure project that has undergone a thorough public consultation process.
For more information about the CVRD's Annual Approval Process, please watch our video or click the button below.
Who was consulted?
This decision was based on input from staff, technical experts, public and technical advisors. The Commission also considered input gathered as part of the public consultation on a shortlist of three options completed in fall 2020. A report summarizing that feedback is available below.
The liquid waste management plan process is used by local governments in BC to develop strategies for managing sewer services. It includes the collection/review of existing information, development of options for future services, identification of a preferred option, completion of required studies and assessments and development of financial and implementation plans. The plan is ultimately submitted to the provincial government for review and consideration for approval.
Public Engagement has played an important role through the development of this plan. To see how input has been collected and used throughout this process visit our engagement portal.
Latest Milestones and Next Steps
- On December 8, 2020 the sewage commission selected a preferred treatment and resource recovery option. With the conveyance plan now approved, the draft LWMP can be completed and submitted to the province.
- On February 18, 2021 the CVRD and K’ómoks First Nation announced a sewer agreement that provides support for moving the Liquid Waste Management Plan forward. Read the agreement here.
- On February 23, 2021 the Sewage Commission approves the preferred option for conveyance.
- On March 9, 2021, the Sewage Commission confirms funding approval for the project will be sought through the CVRD's annual Alternate Approval Process which runs from June 3 to July 5, 2021. An AAP is a cost effective and responsible way to seek voter approval for a critical infrastructure project that has undergone a thorough public consultation process.
- The conveyance route will now move into detailed design, which will determine the specifics of route alignment. Some changes from the conceptual maps shared with the public could be identified to minimize impacts to residents, businesses, archaeological sites, costs and efficiencies.
- The CVRD will continue dialogue with stakeholders, residents with properties located in potential right-of-ways, and homeowners with wells that should be included in our groundwater monitoring program.
The CVRD has reached several important milestones in the liquid waste management planning process since the kick-off in early summer 2018:
- June 2018: Community workshop to help determine community values around managing sewer services in Comox and Courtenay.
- Oct. 2018: Public and Technical Advisory committee members are selected.
- Nov. 2018: Community workshop to share and receive feedback on sewer planning goals/objectives drafted by the advisory committees.
- Jan. 2019: Community information session to share and receive feedback on the long list of options for conveyance, treatment and resource recovery.
- Feb. 2019: Sewage Commission adopts the goals and objectives for the long-term plan. See the staff report here.
- Mar. 2019: Sewage Commission accepts the long list of options for conveyance, treatment and resource recovery. See the staff report here.
- Apr. 2019 – Dec. 2019: CVRD undertakes extensive technical review and First Nations consultation.
- Mar. 2020: Sewage Commission approves the short list of options for the service’s conveyance system and the shortlist goes to the community for their input. See the staff report here.
- Apr. 2020: Engagement process is paused due to COVID-19 response. Public consultation is suspended, with plans to re-launch in the Fall. See the staff report here.
- Sept. 2020: Public consultation on shortlisted options relaunches. See the news release here.
- Sept. 30, Oct. 1, 7 and 8: Webinar and in-person open houses to provide more information about the options under consideration.
- Nov. 5, 2020: Groundwater Webinar to answer questions from Lazo Area residents about how groundwater will be protected during the installation and operation of a new conveyance system.
- Dec.8, 2020: Sewage Commission approves the preferred option for treatment and resource recovery. See the staff report here.
- Feb.18, 2021: CVRD and K’ómoks First Nation sign a sewer agreeement that provides support for moving the Liquid Waste Management Plan forward. For more info see the press release and Community Benefits Agreement.
- Feb.24, 2021: Sewage Commission approves the preferred option for conveyance. See the staff report here.
- Mar.9, 2021: The Sewage Commission introduces a loan authorization bylaw for the sewer system conveyance project and approves the proposed alternative approval process logistics. See the staff report here or click here for more details about the AAP process.
- Apr.13, 2021: The Sewage Commission will consider the implementation strategy for the conveyance project, including the procurement model.
Eight residents have been appointed to the Public Advisory Committee to represent their communities in the development of a Liquid Waste Management Plan for Courtenay and Comox:
- Sheila Carey (Courtenay)
- Kevin Niemi (Courtenay)
- Tamera Servizi (Courtenay)
- Ray Craig (Comox)
- Donald Jacquest (Comox)
- Kevan Van Velzen (Comox)
- Jenny Steel (Area B)
- Mary Lang (Area B)
These representatives from Comox, Courtenay and Area B, play an essential role in considering community goals and public opinion/feedback throughout the planning process. The Public Advisory Committee will be meeting regularly throughout the liquid waste management process. Click the menu below to view meeting minutes, presentations and related documents. For more information about the role of the committee, please see the Terms of Reference.
- November 13, 2018 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 1 - Agenda
- November 13, 2018 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 1 - Minutes
- November 23, 2018 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 2 - Agenda
- November 23, 2018 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 2 - Minutes
- December 11, 2018 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 3 - Agenda
- December 11, 2018 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 3 - Minutes
- January 24, 2019 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 4 - Agenda
- January 24, 2019 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 4 - Minutes
- February 8, 2019 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 5 - Agenda
- February 8, 2019 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 5 - Minutes
- March 22, 2019 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 6 - Agenda
- March 22, 2019 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 6 - Minutes
- September 30, 2019 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 7 - Agenda
- September 30, 2019 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 7 - Minutes
- December 5, 2019 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 8 - Agenda
- December 5, 2019 LMWP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 8 - Minutes
- March 4, 2020 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 9 - Agenda
- March 4, 2020 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 9 - Minutes
- September 28, 2020 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 10 - Agenda
- September 28, 2020 LWMP Joint TACPAC Meeting No. 10 - Minutes
- October 20, 2020 LWMP TAC Meeting No. 10.A - Agenda
- October 20, 2020 LWMP TAC Meeting No. 10.A - Minutes