Wastewater services will soon be coming to Union Bay and Royston thanks to a $30 million provincial announcement Friday (April 14) as part of the Comox Valley Sewer Extension South Project.
The project will connect the communities to the regional treatment system, said Anne Kang, minister of municipal affairs and MLA for Burnaby-Deer Lake at an announcement at the K’ómoks First Nations administration building. Ken Price, elected chief of the K’ómoks First Nations, Jesse Ketler, chair of the Comox Valley Regional District and Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid-Island Pacific Rim were also present for the announcement.
The infrastructure announcement is to help support the health of residents and the environment, as well as advance reconciliation with K’ómoks First Nations, she added.
“This new regional sewer system will serve the proposed treaty lands that will spur development and economic growth, which is an important part of reconciliation and one of the many benefits of the treaty,” said Kang. “We know that developing and upgrading infrastructure is essential to the safety of our communities, and the best way forward is to work together so that our beautiful province is protected now and for future generations.”
Currently, homes and businesses in the Royston and Union Bay communities depend on on-site septic systems, many of which are more than 25 years old and are at an increased risk of failure.
In June 2016, residents voted down in a referendum a multi-phase, multi-partner south sewer project which at the time, was proposed to cost $56 million.
The referendum was asking residents of Royston, Union Bay and Kilmarnock whether or not they were in favour of taxpayer-based funding for the balance of the project, amortized over 30 years.
The estimated cost to homeowners was pegged at between $1,800 and $2,000 per year.
The Comox Valley Regional District had secured approximately $35 million in funding for the project.
“Three years ago, the sewage commission agreed to receive wastewater from these communities, opening the door for a truly regional approach to wastewater treatment in the Comox Valley,” said Ketler.
The new regional system will include service to the K’ómoks First Nation Treaty Settlement Lands south of Courtenay, where further development is planned. Should the treaty be ratified, development and economic growth of these lands will be an important part of reconciliation. The sewer extension project will also help ensure safe access to shellfish for the K’ómoks First Nation for food, social and ceremonial purposes, and support their aquaculture interests in Baynes Sound.
“From our day-to-day lives, this project will go a long way to helping us achieve our long-term goal of creating sustainable economic development that aligns with our K’ómoks values as guardians of the land and resources,” added Price at the announcement.
Russell Dyson, chief administrative officer for the Comox Valley Regional District said if design, planning and procurement work is on schedule, a best-case scenario would be to have construction begin in 2026, with an estimated 12 months needed for completion of the project.