Sewer demands begin to trickle in to city hall

Residents on Stamp Way in the Departure Bay neighbourhood are growing concerned that their aging septic fields won't hold up until sanitary sewer services are installed.

Residents on Stamp Way in Departure Bay are growing concerned their aging septic fields won’t hold up until sanitary sewer services are installed.

Five households on the seven-property street signed a petition in July asking to be given the same consideration as Green Lake residents for sewer hookup, which waives the mandatory $1,800 connecting fee for a 12-month period.

Since amalgamation in 1975, Green Lake residents were promised sewer hookup and city council finally promised delivery of the sewers in June, voting to cover the $3.2-million installation cost for the 107 property owners.

Marilyn Marshall, a Stamp Way resident of 25 years, said people on her street were similarly promised sewer hookup more than three decades ago, and they’re still waiting.

“Our septic tank is 32 years old and a septic tank’s lifespan is 30 years. By law you have to dig it up at that point and start over and that is very costly and not something we want to do if we know sewers are coming,” said Marhsall. “We feel that the sewer hookup is still owed to us. Meanwhile, we’re sitting here biting our nails not knowing whether or not the septic tank is going to fail between now and then.”

She added that at least one neighbour’s tank is already producing unpleasant odours.

Residents at Green Lake found themselves in a similar situation and leaching from the tanks have had a negative environmental impact on the lake itself, according to a provincial report.

Sewer lines were installed down the street last year, but residents have not yet been allowed to tap into it.

Tom Kraft, engineering project manager for the city, said connecting the residents of Stamp Way is on the city’s radar, though it will be up to council to decide if the connection fee is temporarily waived.

“The sanitary sewer in question on Stamp Way is constructed and they are waiting for confirmation from the developer’s engineer that it has been tested and is ready for commissioning,” he said. “We haven’t accepted maintenance on it yet so technically the city does not own it at this point. We simply assume it then take on responsibility for operation and maintenance, but it’s also up to the developer to confirm that the sewer is ready to be accepted by the taxpayers.”

Kraft said no delays are anticipated.

When it agreed to accommodate Green Lake residents in June by building and paying for a sewer line, council knew it was leaving the door open for other areas in Nanaimo that have yet to receive sanitary sewer services to ask for similar treatment.

Areas in Nanaimo currently not serviced include 25 lots along Stephenson Point Road, 125 lots on Jingle Pot, 20 lots at Western Acres and four lots on Maki Road.