Priority Based Budgeting – Objective # 11

I ran out of time in my daily review of Objectives identified through the draft 2015-18 Strategic Plan so now we look only very briefly at our next objective – and we note straight off, that despite it being a huge issue there are only a few vague items related to it.  Strategic Objective #11 (see page 15)

This Objective of Steward water systems and waste stream responsibly has only two associated Outcomes and they are both in 2018:

  • A sewage treatment plan is underway.
  • The City handles waste in a more responsible way.

And yet there are three 2015 Actions associated with this objective:

  • Continue discussion on sewage treatment options.
  • Begin the discussion of sewage treatment sites for different treatment options.
  • Communicate to CRD desire to see single stream collection of recyclables in closed wheeled totes. Make garbage disposal less convenient than recycling.

There are two Considerations associated with this Objective:

  • Changes to recycling streams to be realized, timed with CRD contract changes.
  • Current CRD contract ends May 30, 2019.

Lastly, as a hallmark of Priority Based Budgeting (the new city of Victoria emphasis), the section for Estimated Resources associated with Steward water systems and waste stream responsibly includes:

  • Costs for planning for sewage treatment are currently funded from Sanitary Sewer Utility planning budget.

So What Does this Mean?

I’ve done a bit of writing to date on the odd way in which City of Victoria Council has been responding to the Sewage issue. There was the initial Wastewater Treatment Options report that occurred on February 12th where Council moved to continue a dual track approach (instead of a single track CRD led approach) to treatment options research, meaning that City staff are working independently on a Victoria only option in addition to Council working with the CRD on the Eastside Sewage Treatment Committee.

And then there was the update that occurred on March 12th where Council gave great praise to a Wastewater Treatment Options Governance Report that had been prepared by Engineers. It was enthusiastic but concerning nonetheless.

Regarding the Estimated Resources associated with this dual stream approach to waste water planning, I cannot see anything relevant in the budget when I search Sanitary Sewer Utility as suggested and this is because there are multiple associated accounts which makes things unclear.

As summed up in this recent Jack Knox article in the TC titled We’re not stalling on sewage … just incompetent Council’s strategic priority for being responsible “stewards” kinda seems more like just another step to the left than necessarily a step forward.

With respect to the recycling aspect of this strategic objective, I do not know what it means and as noted in the Considerations for this Objective it appears as though nothing can be done within the time frame of this strategic plan anyways because the current CRD contract (for what? Recycling?) runs until May 2019.

This is what happens when your strategic planning exercise consists primarily of Council writing independently on stickies instead of having fulsome strategic discussions and planning sessions.

If you search the City’s budget for the word “Recycling” in the budget you’ll find 19 mentions across multiple Engineering and Public Works department accounts (Ops Budget). Oddly enough there is a Solid Waste and Recycling Business Unit within this department with a budget of $0 (due to matched expenditures and revenues of $2,896,051) but if you read the account overview the activities are specific to collection of Garbage and Food Waste (see page 222 – 225).

That said, perhaps the 9411 line of Contracted Services with a 2015 value of $751,666 is the annual cost for the CRD Blue Box program?

On the issue of making Garbage Disposal less convenient than Recycling, I’m assuming that this means (even though this is not defined) recycling of items outside of the Blue Box (e.g., plastic bags, small appliances etc.) which is primarily a function of the Encore Return It folks – not the CRD. Additionally, there is the role of Multi-Materials BC to consider with respect to anything recycling related in BC, and this does not appear to be considered in the draft strategic plan.

I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t seem responsible to me!


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