Ladysmith Matters — A Community Update

Ladysmith Mayor Rob Hutchins provides an update on the Waste Water Treatment Plant upgrades, Couverdon proposal and more.

Waste Water Treatment Plant Upgrades

Many of you will be aware that construction upgrades have been on going at our Waste Water Treatment (Sewage) Plant for several years. This project — the largest capital project ever undertaken in the Town of Ladysmith, with an estimated cost of $22 million — is being completed in three phases. Phases One and Two are now complete. Our aging sewage treatment plant (which was built in 1966) is now modernized and fully capable of providing effective primary sewage treatment for a population of up to 18,000. Construction on Phase Three, the introduction of secondary treatment, is expected to start in May 2014 and continue for about 16 months. This is a very important step for our community, as it will help improve the health of Ladysmith harbour, critical for marine life and the aquaculture industry.

We have been already been very fortunate to receive over $9.5 million in grant funding to support the upgrades to the Waste Water Treatment Plant, and are optimistic we will receive additional grants to support Phase Three. Grant funds significantly reduce the direct costs to the Town and property owners of building our new sewage treatment plant. Without any further grants, or additional properties (new development) to share in the cost, the cost per property for this capital upgrade is expected to remain at approximately $220 of the current annual sewer parcel tax amount of $269 per property.

Energy Upgrades to Town Facilities

In keeping with the Town’s Sustainability Action Plan, which Council adopted in 2013, we are endeavouring to find ways to reduce the Town’s energy consumption.

In late 2013, we carried out a detailed energy audit at the Frank Jameson Community Centre (FJCC) to identify areas where we can take steps to reduce energy use at the facility. As a result of this audit, several projects are now underway. We are replacing the existing boilers that heat the water in the swimming pools with two new high efficiency models as well as two domestic boilers used to heat showers; replacing the existing air cooled condensing unit with a high efficiency system; and installing a direct digital control (DDC) system to better control the main pieces of equipment at FJCC. We are also installing occupancy sensors and energy efficient lighting at the FJCC, new light controls at municipal sports field facilities, and replacing a boiler used to heat the Public Works building with a new energy efficient model.

All of this work will be completed by March 31, 2014. Both the audit and equipment upgrades have been funded through either a Provincial “Towns for Tomorrow Grant” and Federal Gas Tax Funds. The changes will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption and help to lower operating costs for the Town.

Boundary Extension Application and Alternative Approval Process

I hope that by now you have had an opportunity to learn more about the application by Couverdon/TimberWest for the Town to extend its boundaries to take in some 700 acres of forest-zoned lands that are owned by Couverdon (the real-estate arm of TimberWest). The three reasons Council is considering this application are:

  • increased protection of our watersheds and water supply

  • increased protection of the forested viewscapes to the west of our Town that are owned by TimberWest, and

  • ensuring that any development of the boundary extension lands follow provincial smart growth practices.

It is very important to point out that if the boundary expansion is approved, it does not give an automatic green light to development. Any future development of these lands would be subject to the Town’s rezoning and development processes. The developers would have to work with the Town to meet our conditions for sustainable development – and that includes making sure that there is capacity of water and sewer systems to support the increased demand.

Ladysmith citizens have the opportunity until March 14 at 4:00 p.m. to send in an Elector Response Form which registers a vote against the boundary extension application (this is known as the Alternative Approval Process.)  Detailed information, the boundary extension application itself, and Elector Response Forms are available at City Hall and on the Town’s website. You can also get the forms at the Library, Frank Jameson Community Centre, and  the Town’s Development Services office at 132 Roberts St. If you are in favour of the proposed boundary extension, you do not need to do anything at this time.

I encourage you to find out all you can about the boundary expansion application. Please get in touch with me, or contact City Hall at 250-245-6400, if you have any questions at all.

Mayor Rob Hutchins