Wastewater Planning Update:

The Core Area wastewater project has completed the Options Development Phase by submitting an amendment to the Liquid Waste Management Plan. The Project has now moved into the Planning Phase. As a result, the Fairness and Transparency Advisor role has concluded given the mandate is complete and an amendment has been submitted to the province. This page is no longer being updated, but its contents will remain throughout the site as a visible record of the work of the Fairness and Transparency Advisor.  

 In an effort to ensure transparency, a summary of all requests for reviews, less any identifying information, submitted to the Fairness and Transparency Advisor will be posted to the CRD website.

Request for Review Summary

Request 1

Issue: Is Urban Systems an “Independent” Consultant in accordance with the CRD/CALWMC criteria and did CRD/CALWMC properly and transparently follow its own criteria in awarding a contract to Urban Systems to conduct the Feasibility and Costing Analysis?

Questions:

  1. Did the CRD staff follow the proper procedures in evaluating the submission and recommending awarding a contract to Urban Systems in apparent contradiction of the conditions stated in the RFP and the stated intentions of the CALWMC?
  2. Did the CALWMC act in good faith in awarding a contract to Urban Systems in apparent contradiction of the public statements made to engage an independent consultant for this phase of the project work?
  3. If the answer to either question above is no, is the contract awarded to Urban System valid or not?
  4. If the contract is not valid, what other submissions where received in response to the RFP and how were they ranked relative to the Urban Systems submission?

Status:

Complete

Request 2

Issue: The issue raised in this complaint centers on the accuracy of the type of costing estimate to be provided by Urban Systems as part of the Independent Engineering and Costing Project; and whether the change in class of estimate (from magnitude estimates of accuracy of +/- 50% to +/- 15% to 25%), as proposed, deviates from agreed-upon Terms of Reference.

Questions:

  1. Does the proposed change from use of Class B estimates to use of Class D estimates, (less accurate) result in a fundamental change to the Costing Project? If so, must this change be approved by the CRD Board as a specific revision to the Terms of Reference for the Independent Engineering and Costing Project?
  2. If approved, should this change to the use of Class D estimates be publicly announced as soon as possible in order to inform on-going consultations?
  3. Would it be fair to consign Class D cost estimating decision to a “Costing Procedures” appendix in a large technical report in December 2015?
  • The complaint raises issues with the overall project timelines and submits that a substantial time extension for an improved independent costing analysis should be contemplated.
  • The complaint suggests excluding the Eastside and Westside committees from direct involvement in the Phase 2 costing analysis; and,
  • The complaint suggests having the Regional Water Commission prepare a report on water supply and costs, as requested by the Technical Oversight Panel (TOP), to assist in defining sewage water recycling benefits.

Status:

Complete

Request 3

Issue: Whether the Technical Oversight Panel (TOP)’s recent meetings with various citizen groups to address concerns with the project (and the TOP’s subsequent recommendations as provided in its Report #6 to the CALWMC) falls outside its mandate and is contrary to the CRD’s agreed upon process for addressing public complaints on the wastewater planning process.

Issues raised in complaint:

  1. Where in the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the TOP does it provide for public access by "Citizen Groups" to the TOP?
  2. Where in the TOR for the TOP is any process laid out for "Citizen Groups" to gain access to the TOP?
  3. In the absence of any apparent reference in the TOP's TOR to meeting with "Citizen Groups", did the TOP, by "arrang(ing) to meet" with such Groups go beyond its mandate, and if it did, what steps can or should be taken to correct this error in judgment?
  4. How, if at all, did the Presentations of Citizen Groups influence the recommendations of the TOP vis a vis the consultants, CALWMC, and/or any other parties?
  5. If the TOP erred in meeting Citizen Groups, how can it be ordered to desist from doing so in future?
  6. Should not these and other Citizen Groups have approached the Fairness and Transparency Advisor with their concerns rather than the TOP, and should not the TOP have directed these Groups to address their concerns to the same Advisor instead of entertaining them itself?

Status

Complete.

Request 4

Issue:

This complaint raises two issues.

The first centers around the site selection process as reported in a recent Eastside Committee report which emphasizes “single-family homes”. The complainant suggests that the process gives rise to issues of bias and unfair treatment of some residential property owners. The specific issue is whether the site selection process is unfair and betrays a lack of impartiality in excluding multi-family dwellings as part of the selection process (presumably favouring the exclusion of options for siting a waste water treatment facility near single-family homes).

The complaint also raises several procedural concerns with the Eastside consultation process, which the complainant suggests, is inadequate.

Specific issues raised in complaint:

The complainant suggests that several processes (and bodies) appear to be relying on the “single-family home” criterion in the site selection process.  In particular, the Eastside Committee’s recent release of options includes considerations related to “single-family homes”. In addition, the complainant points to Ms. Coady’s (Chair of the TOP) recent remarks at a public meeting. When asked  “what factors were considered when ranking the sites, and how were they weighted”, Ms. Coady is reported to have suggested that the most significant factor in the ranking of potential sites was social considerations.

At issue is whether this criteria of “single-family dwellings” was part of the formal criteria provided to the various teams involved in site selection processes, and if not, how this criteria has emerged.

As it relates to the Eastside consultation process, the complaint points to the following procedural concerns:

  • lack of reaching out to property owners other than through large group sessions;
  • lack of appropriate notice of public sessions;
  • singular use of computer based surveys;
  • inadequate access to technical experts to answer public questions;
  • incomplete information provided to the public.

Status: Complete.

Request 5

Issue:

The complainant raises issue with the timely availability of information on the consideration and evaluation of viable project options.

Specific issues raised in the complaint:

The specific issue which gave rise to this complaint relates to the unavailability of a staff report which will form the basis of an agenda item at January 13th CALWMC meeting. The report titled “Follow Up to Technical and Financial Information Requests” was at the time of submitting the complaint - 10:03pm January 11 - unavailable to the public.

Status: Complete

Request 6

Issue:

The main issue raised in this complaint relates to the suppression of information. It is alleged that important information which would inform the CALWMC’s decision-making is being withheld from both the public and the committee.

Specific issues raised in the complaint:

The specific issue in this complaint concerns the Technical Oversight Panel’s (TOP’s) procedures for making decisions and providing recommendations to the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee (CALWMC). Information suppression, it is argued by the complainant, is evidenced in the following:

  1. Incomplete disclosure in the minutes of the full extent of deliberations at the TOP meetings;
  2. Procedural aspects of how the TOP operates (e.g., voting) which ultimately leads to the suppression of information; and
  3. Panel members being restricted in making public comment and/or sharing information on the details of panel deliberations. 

Status: Complete.

Request 7

Issue: The complaint raises issue with respect to whether information provided to the public about gasification is based on technical expertise. In particular, the complainant calls into question the expertise of Urban Systems (and Carollo Engineers) and raises procedural concerns relative to the Technical Oversight Panel’s (TOP’s) management of views / expertise on gasification, through its deliberative processes.

Questions

  1. Do the consultants, Urban Systems and Carollo Engineers, have expertise in gasification?
  2. Has the TOP, within its procedures, “suppressed” expert opinion on gasification with respect to project options and cost estimates?
  3. Has the CRD breached the public's trust by stating they have gasification expertise?

Status: Complete.

Request 8

Issue: The complainant raises issue with the unexplained inaccuracies related to project cost estimates.

Questions

The complainant raises concerns with the accuracy of the project costing, stating that they contain significant unexplained inconsistencies.

Specific issues raised by the complainant are as follows:

  1. Has the process used for determining the present costing estimates been consistent with the costing used in the 2011 McLoughlin Wastewater Treatment Plant bid?
  2. Have the discrepancies between the new costing estimates and the previous costing been adequately explained in the cost comparison prepared by staff?

Status: Complete.

Request 9

Issue: The complainant raises issue with the fairness of the current public online survey used in the site selection process.

Specific Issues Raised

In particular, the complainant states that the potential survey outcomes have not been made clear to participants. The complainant alleges that option sets including site locations and transportation methods are not clearly defined within the survey tool, undermining the ability for participants to adequately respond to the survey questions. Without knowledge of the true costs and impacts associated with various options, the complainant argues that participants are unable to make reasonably informed decisions to guide the options selection process.

Status: Complete.

Request 10

Issue: The complainant raises issue with the fairness and transparency of the public consultation programme in the site selection process.

Specific Issues Raised

The particular issue raised by the complainant is the lack of public access to view and consider the proposed treatment site in Rock Bay. The complainant states that given the proposed site's large footprint, close proximity to downtown, and inclusion in each of the considered option sets, the public should be allowed to tour the site as part of the ongoing public consultation. The complainant alleges that any view of the site is currently obstructed by plywood hoarding, despite the fact that the former BC Hydro/Transport Canada site's remediation is nearly complete.

Status: Screening.

Request 11

Issue: The complainant raises issue with the fairness of the current public online survey being used to gather input about treatment options.

Specific issues raised in the complaint:

The complainant states that the survey design leads respondents to predetermined outcomes and is therefore biased. In particular, the complainant states that the survey asks respondents to select no more than 3 “acceptable options” within a list of 7 considered option sets, however, respondents are not given a mechanism to indicate a lack of support for these proposed option sets, (e.g., to select “none of the above”). The complainant also takes issue with the fact that the remainder of the survey cannot be completed and submitted without answering this particular question.

Status: Complete.

Request 12

Issue: The complainant raises issue with the fairness of the current online survey with respect to the adequacy of resource recovery cost details provided to the public.

Specific Issues Raised: In particular, the complaint suggests that taxpayer costs are not considered in the wastewater options survey or supporting documents. The complaint questions the absence of this information, whereas potential water reuse revenues have been identified to the public.

Specifically, the complainant raises the following two issues regarding water reuse costing:

  1. That the CALWMC failed to ensure that the findings on water reuse are fairly presented to the public. In particular, that the practical challenges and cost assessments in Section 3.6 of Tech Memo #3 have not been summarized for the public; and
  2. That the CALWMC has failed to obtain and publish information from the Regional Water Supply Commission on revenue losses resulting from sewage treatment water reuse. The complainant claims that these extra taxpayer costs more than offset the water reuse revenues.

Should this issue proceed to investigation?

The complaint raises potential issues of fairness and transparency in relation to the absence of costing information in the documentation on wastewater resource recovery options.

In order for a process to be fair and transparent, the public must have access to all information which is material to the matter at hand.  The form of information and type of access provided can impact fairness and transparency.

Insufficient provision of information has the potential to undermine the fairness and transparency of the process, and as such, this issue shall proceed to investigation.

Status: Complete

Request 13

Issue

The complaint raises issue with the fairness of the consideration of sewage treatment alternatives in the options selection process.

Specific Issues Raised

The complainant claims that innovative treatment alternatives are being overlooked, and that this is undermining the fairness of the process to identify a wastewater treatment solution. Specifically, the complainant takes issue with the CRD’s position at this time to not consider alternatives to the seven option sets currently under consideration.

Should this issue proceed to investigation?

The FTA has a mandate to ensure the options selection process is fair, transparent, and impartial. The complaint calls into question the fairness of the options selection process. As such, this complaint does raise issues of a procedural nature and the FTA will investigate the concern.

Status: Complete.

Request 14

Issue: The complaint raises issue with the fairness and transparency of decision-making processes and the ways in which the option sets have been presented for feedback in the public consultation process.

The complainant raises the following specific issues:

  1. The complainant questions the leadership and transparency in the decision-making process with regards to the Eastside Public Advisory Committee (EPAC). In particular, the complainant claims that the Committee did not review and approve the questions used in the Ipsos survey prior to its release;
  2. The complainant claims that the CALWMC’s forthcoming release of final reports on Project costs, sites and technology after the completion of the public consultation period is unfair and not transparent as the public does not have access to the most up-to-date information to inform their opinions; and
  3. The complainant raises issue with the fact that each of the seven costed option sets include a common site; (by this statement the FTA assumes the complainant is referring to the Rock Bay site which is common to all options). Specifically, the complainant claims that the presentation of the options lacks comparison across the proposed solutions and that lack of such comparison undermines the public’s ability to make decisions on these options.

Status: Complete

Request 15

Issue: The complaint raises issue with the fairness and transparency of public consultation on the options sets with respect to both interference in the process by decision-makers and the adequacy of consultation methods and materials.

Specific issues raised in the complaint:

Interference in the process by decision-makers

  1. The complainant claims that the CALWMC Chair has interfered in the public consultation process, constituting a breach of objectivity and fairness. The complaint draws specific reference to a February 2016 Op-ed pieced submitted by the Chair and subsequently posted to the CRD wastewater planning webpage. The complainant claims that in this piece, the Chair:
    1. Discards McLoughlin point as a potential option;
    2. Declares fully tertiary treatment has been selected;
    3. Announces support for gasification treatment technology; and
    4. Discounts a distributed tertiary system.

Adequacy of consultation materials and methods

  1. The complainant raises issue with the Phase 2 public consultation process materials and methods:

Materials:

  1. That the survey did not provide information on negative impacts as the FTA required in the following recommendation from request no. 4: “Ensuring that the engagement materials (e.g., reports, presentations) are complete and address issues related to potential break downs.”;
  2. That the survey data is corrupted as a result of the fact that it includes data from an earlier version of the survey that forced the public to select 3 options from the considered option sets;

Methods:

  1. That inadequate notice was given for a public consultation meeting of February 12th with respect to the claim that notice was given for the meeting the day-of;
  2. That mail-outs were not adequately used for the public consultation sessions (as previously recommended by the FTA in the decision on request no. 4: “Exploring the feasibility for mail outs to targeted areas. If the costs are prohibitive, this should be made known so that the public understands that the policy maker has turned their mind to this issue.”);
  3. That the February 12 meeting did not include technical experts, rendering “effective” communication on the specifics of the considered option sets inadequate; and
  4. That the consultation process has not sincerely listened to and considered the public’s input; that at times, the public has not been treated with dignity and respect. The complainant points to a specific instance in the facilitation of a public session where the consultant treated members of the public with a lack of respect.

Status: Complete.

Request 16

Issue: The issue as raised by the complainant relates to the CRD’s process for reviewing and deciding upon wastewater technologies.

Specific Issue Raised:

The complainant claims their company provided a proposal and presentation to the CALWMC on a particular wastewater technology (the JOR-Vic Sewage Reclaim-Treatment Alternative) and that no feedback or intent to review the feasibility of the technology was subsequently communicated by the CRD.

Status: Complete.

Request 17-29

Issue: The complaints relate to the CALWMC’s motion to alter the process for selecting an option for wastewater treatment by allowing for new options to be assessed and considered.

Specific Issues Raised:

The complainants raise specific issues of fairness and transparency with the recent motion to consider the potential of wastewater treatment sites in Esquimalt.

The specifics of each of the issues raised in each investigation are identified in each of the screening documents.

Status: Complete.

Request 30

Issue: The complaint relates to the process used by CALWMC in recommending an additional site be included in the LWMP. 

Specific Issues Raised:  Specifically, the complaint questions the fairness of the CALWMC’s March 9th recommendation to amend the LWMP to include Clover Point as a potential tertiary sewage treatment plant option. It is argued that in proposing this option, the CALWMC failed to follow its agreed-to procedures of first entertaining and considering the advice of the Technical Oversight Panel (TOP). The complainant points to a lack of evidence within the public record that the TOP vetted Urban System’s report recommending this option to the CALWMC.

Status: Complete.

Email Received by FTA from a member of the Public

On September 30th, the FTA received an email - not a formal complaint - from a member of the public asking that the FTA advance a particular position as it relates to substantive aspects of treatment options. The FTA responded on October 1st that the role is prohibited from advancing any particular interest and suggested that the individual avail themselves of the delegation process at CRD (and committee) meetings and/or forward the issue to the Chair of the CALWMC.

Monthly Summary Reports

As part of the FTA's Terms of Reference, a monthly summary report is to be provided to make recommendations to the Board through the CALWMC to help strengthen the fairness, transparency or objectiveness of the process followed relating to aspects of the Project that fall within the FTA’s mandate. Below is a list of the reports to date.

Requests for Review Received To Date

30