Delta turns down TFN sewer offer

TFN offered the municipality $3m for the South Delta force main

Delta will not be selling its South Delta force main to Metro Vancouver to help with the sewer capacity needs of the Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN), following a council decision Monday (Nov. 4).

TFN presented a proposal Oct. 19 for the transfer of ownership of the asset from Delta to the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District (GVSDD) for $3 million in compensation.

Delta’s Chief Administrative Officer George Harvie said that although Delta has always been willing to work with TFN, as evidenced by nine serving agreements between the two local governments, it was not prepared to sell a taxpayer-funded asset.

“We would lose the autonomy of our line,” said Harvie to council. “If there was a dispute, this line would go to arbitration.”

Harvie’s report showed that the force main and associated pump stations represented a significant investment by Delta taxpayers, with a total historical cost of over $27 million and maintenance and improvement costs of $9 million.

“This line was put in the ground by Delta taxpayers when the GVRD [Greater Vancouver Regional District] wouldn’t do it,” said Mayor Lois Jackson, adding it’s a Delta taxpayer asset and it can’t be simply sold off.

“It is in our best interests to advise TFN we are not approving any sale to Metro Vancouver,” said Harvie, adding it’s not up to Delta to come up with solutions for TFN’s mega malls.

Harvie’s comment is in reference to TFN’s land use plan to build out numerous commercial and residential developments over the next 20 years that will require a considerable upgrade to their sewage requirements.

Delta has maintained a sewage capacity based on its official community plan (OCP) growth projections, which historically have been low in South Delta, or in the case of Tsawwassen have even declined over the past 30 years.

A sewage capacity report prepared by Omni Engineering in July found the sewer system from South Delta to the Annacis Island treatment plant has sufficient capacity to deal with Delta’s projected needs, but not reserve capacity for TFN’s long-term plans.

Delta agreed to to a five-year interim deal with TFN in 2010, with an understanding that the future needs of the community will have to be worked out with the GVSDD. TFN became a member of the GVSDD earlier this year following a request to the province.

TFN’s Chief Administrative Officer Doug Raines said on Tuesday (Nov. 5) he received the report from Delta, and has asked for a meeting to see if the Corporation will reconsider.

“The report says there has to be further capital works done on the line and we’re saying we’d cover that,” said Raines. “And then we’ve been trying to get specific information on what Delta felt the appropriate line costs were.”

Raines said there’s currently an offer on the table submitted to both Delta and the GVSDD for $13.5 million.

“I think we can appreciate Delta’s position now. The value of the line is something we have to discuss.”

Council voted Monday to resolve not to enter into any agreement with TFN or Metro Vancouver transferring Delta sewage assets.

“In the same way [TFN] has to look after its residents, Delta has to look after its residents,” said Coun. Sylvia Bishop.

Although Delta has good relations with TFN, it can’t put their interests ahead of Delta taxpayers, she added.

The report indicates the total replacement cost of Delta’s sewer infrastructure is estimated at $60 million.

Surrey North Delta Leader