A Partnership between the RDNO, Township of Spallumcheen and Okanagan Indian Band
The North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project is a unique and innovative partnership between the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO), Township of Spallumcheen and Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) to build an efficient and affordable wastewater collection and recovery system.
The goal is to address the environmental degradation of Swan Lake, provide economic development opportunities for industrial, commercial and residential growth in the area, and address the challenges of drought conditions for local agriculture.
The project will provide wastewater service to residences and businesses in portions of RDNO Areas B and C, the Township of Spallumcheen’s south-east industrial area, and to OKIB IR#4 at the north end of Swan Lake, and will have the capacity to expand to meet future demand.
Memorandums of Understanding (2015/2018)
In 2015, to further explore these challenges and opportunities, RDNO, Spallumcheen, and OKIB formalized a collaborative, cost-sharing Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the following objectives and guiding principles.
- Preserve Swan Lake and surrounding wetlands; and
- Improve opportunities for economic development.
- Wastewater is a resource.
- Collaboration and the sharing of human and financial resources achieves better results.
- Respect for each partner’s mandates and decision-making processes strengthens the partnership.
- Open and transparent communication among the parties and with the public optimizes project support and success.
An updated and more detailed and action-focused MOU entitled Provision of Wastewater Recovery Facilities and Services has been signed and outlines factors such as administrative functions, ownership of sewer works, decision-making authority, operations and systems management, allocation of plant capacity, capital costs recovery, and wastewater recovery regulations.Image
The 2015 Memorandum of Understanding was signed by RDNO Area C and B Directors Mike Macnabb (left) and Bob Fleming (right), OKIB Chief Byron Louis, and Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown.Image
As documented in the 2015 MOU, collaborative governance of the project:
- Increases leverage when applying for provincial and/or federal funding;
- Facilitates the development of consistent and integrated plans, policies, and programs;
- Ensures an integrated approach to public outreach and engagement; and
- Sets the stage for future collaborations.
Governance structures, functions, and jurisdictional roles and responsibilities are outlined in the 2018 MOU.
- Phase 1, undertaken between 2015 and 2016, explored options for providing wastewater treatment in the Swan Lake corridor. The resulting 2016 Phase 1 Feasibility Study, prepared by Urban Systems, supported the development of wastewater recovery, treatment, and reuse.
- Phase 2, undertaken in 2018, refined technical aspects of the project and examined funding options and governance structures. The resulting 2018 Phase 2 Feasibility Study was used to guide the development of the funding application submitted August 29, 2018, to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
To date, project partners have collaborated to:
- Assess existing environmental conditions (i.e., water quality analyses conducted in 2015, 2016 and 2017 confirmed that leaching septic systems are impacting Swan Lake health)
- Identify existing and potential commercial and industrial uses in the plan area (i.e., 2016 RDNO Employment Lands Report)
- Identify wastewater treatment, reuse and disposal strategies and options (i.e., 2016 Phase 1 Feasibility Study and 2018 Phase 2 Feasibility Study).
Research outcomes, in all cases, supported the construction of a wastewater recovery facility and associated reclaimed water storage facilities to address environmental challenges, enhance economic growth, and provide much-needed irrigation water to area farmers.
- Swan Lake Commercial Area and Neighbourhood Plan (completed)
- Natural Capital Assets Planning, with funding of $120,000 provided by the Gas Tax Strategic Priorities Fund (underway).
- Financial commitments were shared by project partners for Phase 1 scoping and Phase 2 technical analyses.
- A $10,000 Infrastructure Planning Grant was received from Province of BC in 2017 to assist with Phase 2 costs.
- It is important to note that the project will not proceed without senior government funding. Project partners submitted a grant application for $24.3 million to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program on August 29, 2018.
- If grant funding is approved, the additional funding needed would come from an Okanagan Basin Water Board Sewerage Facilities Assistance Grant ($5.9 million), Spallumcheen reserves ($1.5 million), and RDNO borrowing ($5.2 million).
Historically, septic systems have been used to treat residential, commercial, and industrial wastewater in the Swan Lake corridor. Water quality assessments have shown that many of these systems are leaching contaminants into Swan Lake, thereby impacting surface and groundwater quality, bird habitat, and recreational use of the corridor.
Additionally, economic development in RDNO Areas B and C, the Township of Spallumcheen’s south-east industrial area, and OKIB IR4 are all compromised by the corridor’s lack of sewer. Ideal for commercial and light industrial uses, the corridor requires a wastewater treatment plant and reclaimed water storage sites to optimize business growth. Wastewater recovery and reuse would also benefit agriculture in the area, as growers require additional sources of irrigation water during the hot summer months.
The total project cost is $36.9 million and will funded through:
- Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program Grant - $24.3 million
- Okanagan Basin Water Board Sewage Facilities Assistance Grant (SFA) grant - $5.9 million
- RDNO borrowing - $5.2 million
- Township of Spallumcheen reserves - $1.5 million
September 16, 2019
Cheers from the crowd of over 100 people rang out after Mayor Christine Fraser from the Township of Spallumcheen exclaimed “we were awarded $24.3 million dollars!”
The Wastewater Recovery Project has been four years in the making and has faced multiple hurdles due to the complex undertaking of creating an infrastructure asset that will benefit three jurisdictions in different ways for generations to come. On September 12, the community came together to celebrate one of the most significant milestones achieved to date for the project – the awarding of $24.3 million dollars from the federal and provincial governments.
The event brought together the partner jurisdictions that have worked to get the project to where it is today alongside the staff and consultants that have assisted along the way, and the community that has enthusiastically supported the concept of the Wastewater Recovery Project.
The project partners (RDNO, Township of Spallumcheen and the Okanagan Indian Band) had been clear with the public and stakeholders from the beginning – without this grant money, the project would not be able to move forward. In fact, there were many ways for the project to have come to a permanent halt before a shovel ever hit the ground. Had the petition not been successful, the project could not move forward. Had the Township of Spallumcheen not been able to obtain the necessary land, the project could not move forward. And, had the $24.3 million grant application not been successful, the project could not move forward. Still, the team plugged along to purchase the needed land, run a necessary petition process in the electoral areas, and applied for the grant and lobbied the provincial and federal government for years.
These realities have been at the forefront of the partners’ tireless efforts, each having to navigate their jurisdiction’s unique requirements. These realities and challenges are also why the positive energy was so high at the community celebration event.
“Money like this doesn’t normally come here. It goes to the Lower Mainland, it goes to the Central and South Okanagan but it often doesn’t come to the North Okanagan,” said Amanda Shatzko, Electoral Area C Director, RDNO.
In speaking to the importance of reclaiming water for agricultural use, Mayor Fraser told the crowd about one year in Spallumcheen that saw “over 1000 acres lose all of their forage crops due to a shortage of water. With the new Wastewater Recovery Project, over 600 acres of irrigation water for farming will be provided which is an enormous benefit to our farmers.”
“It's believed that about 50 businesses have been turned away over the last 15 years because of a lack of sewer,” said Bob Fleming, Electoral Area B Director, RDNO. "The benefits will drive our economy for years to come.”
“I always ask people, what’s the actual value of your property without water? It isn’t much. When you start looking at water through that lens, it’s worth every effort to protect our water through holding ourselves to the highest standards,” said Byron Louis, Chief of the Okanagan Indian Band. “Investing in water is investing in this community.”
With the grant secured, the project team will begin the planning and engineering work to make the wastewater recovery project a reality.Image
August 28, 2019
The environment, economy and agriculture in the North Okanagan’s Swan Lake area received a major boost with the announcement of a $24.3 million grant from the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan for construction of the North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery System. The Government of Canada contributed $13,255,148, and the Province of British Columbia contributed $11,044,852. The project will provide homes and businesses with a safe and sustainable wastewater treatment facility and sewer system that will protect Swan Lake water quality, provide reclaimed water for agriculture, enhance recreational opportunities and support economic development.
The project is the result of a unique and innovative partnership formed in 2015 between the Township of Spallumcheen, the Regional District of North Okanagan and the Okanagan Indian Band. For the past four years, the Partners have been setting the foundation for the success of this project, including conducting environmental and economic impact studies and obtaining community and financial support. While currently planned to service portions of Electoral Areas B and C, the Township of Spallumcheen’s south-east industrial area and Okanagan Indian Band lands within the proposed service area, it will have the ability to expand to meet future growth.
The grant funding will cover approximately 66 percent of the total $36.9 million cost, with the remaining amounts to be funded by RDNO borrowing ($5.2 million), an Okanagan Basin Water Board grant ($5.9 million) and Township of Spallumcheen reserves ($1.5 million).
The next steps include design, development, tendering and construction of the facility and sewer lines over the next two to three years. The process will be aided by the continued support of the Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group of dedicated community volunteers providing local perspectives as the project moves forward.
The North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project Partnership Members will be holding a public celebration event with details to be shared soon.
March 18, 2019
Sewer service for the Swan Lake Corridor took a major step forward as the majority of property owners signed the petition showing their support for the project.
The petition for the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) share of funding is one of many required steps to develop the North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project. The bylaw will now be sent to the Inspector of Municipalities for approval. With this approval, the RDNO will be able to establish a local service area and proceed with borrowing $5.2 million if the federal/provincial grant application for $24.3 million is approved.
The RDNO petition had to pass two tests to achieve approval from the community: the owners of at least 50 percent of the parcels liable to be charged for the proposed service had to sign the petition, and the signed petitions had to represent at least 50 percent of the net taxable value of all land and improvements within the proposed service area.
The petition passed both tests, with 63% of the parcels, and 78% percent of the value voting in favour.
January 24, 2019
More than 130 Area B and C property owners attended an open house Tuesday to learn about the North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project in general and the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) petition in particular.
Attendees spoke with elected officials, RDNO and Urban Systems staff, and Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group members about project benefits, the proposed service area, and treatment system components and locations. Interest was particularly strong around potential rates for their properties if RDNO gets the go-ahead from Area B and C property owners to borrow $5.2 million for their share of the $36.9 million project. For more information, view the open house display panels here.
“I was very pleased to see the number of both residents and business owners from the Swan Lake Corridor and their level of interest,” said Area B Director Bob Fleming. “Along with the many questions people asked me, the most common comment was ‘it’s time this happened’. I’m hearing that most people feel it’s an investment in the future of both our environment and economy.”
Area C Director Amanda Shatzko noticed a similar trend. “The turnout and response from the public was positive. Many residents spoke about the state of their current septic systems and how they would prefer to connect to sewer before their septic systems start to malfunction.”
While support for the project was strong, Fleming said that, “There were definitely concerns expressed by some regarding the costs.” Shatzko heard that, “While connecting would be an expense, it would be better to pay now than paying the same or more later to replace their septic systems, as it is inevitable they will need to be upgraded or replaced.”
Area B and C residents and businesses within the proposed service area have received personalized petition packages outlining long-term borrowing details and rates for their 14 percent share ($5.2 million) of the $36.9 million project. Those who support borrowing should sign their petitions and return them to RDNO before March 15th.
To succeed, the petition must be signed by the owners of at least 50 percent of the parcels liable to be charged for the proposed service. In addition, people signing must be the owners of parcels that, in total, represent at least 50 percent of the net taxable value of all land and improvements within the proposed service area.
If the petition succeeds, RDNO could establish a local service area and proceed with borrowing if the federal/provincial grant for $24.3 million is approved. The project will not continue without the grant.
November 26, 2018
A big “THANK YOU” to this new group, whose primary project goals are environmental protection and sustainable economic development in the Swan Lake Corridor.Image
Back left to right: Leith Skinner (outdoorsman/environmentalist); Ray Ivey (Area C Advisory Planning Commission / Swan Lake Local Area Plan Advisory Committee); Bob Fleming (Area B Director); Doug Neden (retired water and wastewater professional); Betty Holtskog (Registered Onsite Wastewater Practitioner); Mike Broersma (dairy farmer); and Anita Rea (Spallumcheen resident with community development experience) Leah Mellott (General Manager of Electoral Area Administration, RDNO). Front back to right: Marnie Williamson (North Okanagan Naturalists Club); Amanda Shatzko (Area C Director); and Christine LeMaire (Spallumcheen Councillor). Missing: Christine Fraser (Spallumcheen Mayor) and Alan Short (Avenue Machinery).
- Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group: Environmental protection and sustainable economic development in the Swan Lake Corridor are the primary goals of the newly established Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group
A strong response to the call for volunteers resulted in a good mix of applicants from all sectors, interests, and area locations. The working group met for the first time November 29, 2018, with elected officials and staff from the partner organizations. As well as learning more about the project and their role moving forward, working group members also visited the proposed treatment plant location on L&A Cross Road and nearby potential water storage sites.
The group’s first task was to help build public awareness about the project in general and to bring attention to a petition of Area B and C property owners within the proposed service area. The petition determined that property owners support borrowing $5.2 million over 20 years. If senior government grant funding is awarded, the Working Group members will then begin gathering community input on project design, construction, and start up.
All eight candidates were approved November 14, 2018, by the Partnership Team, which includes RDNO, Township of Spallumcheen, and OKIB. Working group members include:
- Alan Short (Avenue Machinery)
- Anita Rea (Spallumcheen resident with a background in community development)
- Betty Holtskog (Registered Onsite Wastewater Practitioner)
- Douglas Neden (Retired Water and Wastewater Professional)
- Leith Skinner (Outdoorsman / Environmentalist)
- Marnie Williamson (North Okanagan Naturalists Club)
- Mike Broersma (Dairy Farmer)
- Ray Ivey (Member of Area “C” Advisory Planning Commission and Swan Lake Local Area Plan Advisory Committee)
- Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): Project partners signed an MOU outlining administrative, ownership, decision-making, cost recovery, and operations and management arrangements.
- Grant Application: A $24.3 million funding request for 66% of the $36.9 million total project cost was submitted to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program on August 29, 2018. The remaining amount is proposed to be funded through the Okanagan Basin Water Board Sewerage Facilities Assistance Grant ($5.9 million), Township of Spallumcheen reserves ($1.5 million) and RDNO borrowing ($5.2 million).
- It’s important to note that the project will not proceed without grant funding.
- Property Purchase: The Township of Spallumcheen bought a 2.5-acre site on L&A Cross Road that could accommodate the wastewater recovery plant. The Township also secured a 99-year lease for reclaimed water storage from a nearby property owner and arranged a partnership with an existing biosolids composting facility near the project site.
- Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group: Environmental protection and sustainable economic development in the Swan Lake Corridor are the primary goals of the newly established Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group
August 27, 2018
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed this week by the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO), Township of Spallumcheen, and Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) is an important step in the move toward construction of a wastewater recovery system that would provide significant environmental and economic benefits for all three jurisdictions. The system would serve residents and businesses in the proposed service area, which includes portions of RDNO Electoral Areas “B” and “C”, the Township of Spallumcheen’s south-east industrial area, and parts of OKIB IR4 north of Swan Lake. The wastewater recovery facility could potentially be located on L&A Cross Road in Spallumcheen, where the Township recently purchased a 2.5 acre site.
The next step is to secure funding for the project. The partners agree the project is contingent on grant funding and will be submitting a grant application to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The requested grant amount of $24.3 million represents approximately 66% of the $36.9 million total project cost. The remaining amount is proposed to be funded through the Okanagan Basin Water Board Sewerage Facilities Assistance Grant ($5.9 million), Township of Spallumcheen reserves ($1.5 million) and RDNO borrowing ($5.2 million). Funding is also contingent on a successful petition of RDNO Electoral Area “B” and “C” residents and businesses within the proposed service area. The petition will be used to confirm support for the project and borrowing of $5.2 million. The petition will be available in the near future. This unique partnership and the collaborative approach to funding strengthens the grant application and reduces financial impacts by sharing costs over a larger population.
“This partnership is critical to advancing the environmental protection of our lake and our drinking water,” said OKIB Chief Byron Louis. “It’s great to be working with our neighbours. More funding opportunities arise when small governments stop competing for provincial and federal grant dollars and start collaborating.” Page 2 of 2 “We are extremely honoured to partner with the Township of Spallumcheen and OKIB on making this project a reality,” said RDNO Board Chair and Electoral Area “B” Director Bob Fleming. “While we recognize there is still much to be done, we’re inspired by so many potential benefits for our residents, businesses, and the environment.” “We are excited to see the positive movement on this,” said Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown. “We’ve seen water quality challenges, lack of water for our farmers, and economic opportunities missed. This system will help fix those problems.”
October 10, 2017
During the recent UBCM Convention, the Honourable Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, presented a $10,000 cheque to the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) under the Infrastructure Planning Grant program to complete Phase II of the North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project. “This timely and important financial contribution from the provincial government indicates both interest and concrete support to enable us to move this project forward,” said Bob Fleming, Electoral Area “B” Director. “It is great news!” Phase II will advance the vision of a shared wastewater recovery system for the Swan Lake Industrial Corridor, OKIB lands at the north end of Swan Lake, and the Spallumcheen South-East Industrial Area. Urban Systems Limited will undertake the Phase II study to refine technical aspects of the project, develop a sustainable service model (finance and governance) and develop a communications strategy to educate and inform community members.
November 16, 2015Image
The 2015 Memorandum of Understanding was signed by RDNO Area C and B Directors Mike Macnabb (left) and Bob Fleming (right), OKIB Chief Byron Louis, and Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown.
All hands were “in” as partners to the Master Waste Water Recovery Plan recently met on the shores of Swan Lake. Engineering consultants have begun the scope of work to explore options for waste water recovery in the study area (Swan Lake Commercial Corridor, South Spallumcheen Industrial and Commercial area (existing and proposed) and portions of the Okanagan Indian Band). “This partnership provides an opportunity to protect Swan Lake and its surrounding wetlands,” said Township of Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown. “The ability to recover waste water creates a wide range of economic development opportunities”, added Directors Bob Fleming and Mike Macnabb. The Partners welcome the opportunity to build relationships with surrounding governments. “It’s great to be working with our neighbours,” said Chief Louis. “More funding opportunities arise when small governments stop competing for provincial and federal grant dollars and start collaborating.”
October 13, 2015
PROJECT LAUNCH – Master Waste Water Recovery Plan
The Township of Spallumcheen, the Okanagan Indian Band and Electoral Areas “B” and “C” of the Regional District of North Okanagan are pleased to announce the formation of a Partnership to develop a Master Waste Water Recovery Plan for the Swan Lake Commercial Corridor, South Spallumcheen Industrial and Commercial area (existing and proposed) and portions of the Okanagan Indian Band. The Plan will explore options for sanitary sewer service in the study area with a key goal being the recovery of treated waste water to be used for beneficial purposes such as irrigation. “This partnership serves two purposes,” said Electoral Area “B” Director Bob Fleming. “It provides an opportunity to preserve Swan Lake, its surrounding wetlands and species which live in these areas. It also provides opportunity for economic development.” Chief Byron Louis of the Okanagan Indian Band added that the band is in the preliminary stages of designating land for lease and welcomes building relationships with surrounding governments. “It’s great to be working with our neighbours,” said Chief Louis. “More funding opportunities arise when small governments stop competing for provincial and federal grant dollars and start collaborating.” One of the underlying principles of the Partnership is “there is no ‘waste’ water - water is a resource,” and the Plan will focus on water recovery. “Every drop of water that can be recovered will help with drought mitigation,” said Township of Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown, “and with our region recently experiencing severe drought conditions, the timing of this project is perfect.” The Partnership has engaged an engineering consultant to prepare a project work plan.
Further details will be available as the Plan develops.