A peer review of a storm-water management plan on Crown leases in Cowichan Bay concludes that more information is needed in several areas of the plan. (File photo)

Peer review critical of storm-water management plan for Cowichan estuary leases

Report sealed before controversial vote on Cowichan Bay rezoning

The stormwater management plan submitted as part of the rezoning process for Cowichan Bay does not specifically address climate change or rising sea levels, according to a report.

The report also concluded that the level of detail provided in many areas of the stormwater management plan is “not appropriate”, and more information should be provided.

“Additional information on measures to mitigate environmental hazards, stormwater treatment, monitoring, and maintenance objectives for existing and future specific pollutants is required,” the report concluded.

The report by Morrison Hershfield Ltd., prepared for the Cowichan Valley Regional District, is a technical peer review of the stormwater management plan by Herold Engineering on the stormwater infrastructure on a number of Crown leases at properties where the Westcan Terminal is situated.

RELATED STORY: CONTROVERSIAL COWICHAN BAY REZONING APPROVED

A controversial rezoning application from Western Stevedoring, which controls the leases, was approved by the CVRD on Oct. 23 shortly after the board decided to move forward with the process without a second public hearing after new information, in the form of the report, was submitted on the applicant’s stormwater management plan.

The CVRD board decided not to receive the information in the report before the final reading and adoption of the rezoning.

RELATED STORY: BOARD DECLINES TO SEE NEW INFORMATION IN CONTROVERSIAL COWICHAN BAY REZONING

A second peer review, also prepared by Morrison Hershfield, on the environmental management plan at the site concluded that the plan provides an appropriate level of detail “for the most part”.

Among the concerns raised by Morrison Hershfield’s report on the stormwater management plan is that the plan’s model for stormwater management during storms does not take into account major weather events in which the amount of rain falling exceeds the Mean Annual Rainfall, which is a rainfall event that occurs on average once per year.

“In addition, it is also important to establish a total suspended solids (suspended particles that are not dissolved in a sample of water and can be trapped by a filter) loading rate that matches pre-development conditions to minimize water-quality issues and to protect the ocean downstream,” the report said.

“The [plan] provides some detail for managing perimeter ditches, sumps, and oil/water separators, including a commitment to undertake a water monitoring program. However, it but does not mention objectives for TSS removal.”

Ann Kjerulf, the CVRD’s general manager of land use services, said it’s not mandatory for Western Stevedoring to follow up on the report’s recommendations.

“The board approved the rezoning without conditions so the report’s recommendations are for information, but may help guide the proponent through development activities,” she said.

RELATED STORY: BIG CROWD AND MANY OPINIONS AT TENSE COWICHAN BAY REZONING MEETING

Ian Morrison, chairman of the CVRD, said that for him, many factors along the course of the rezoning process went into his decision to vote to approve the rezoning application.

He said that part of his decision to approve the application was based on the fact that the board could point to concrete actions the applicant had taken in relation to the well being of the Cowichan Bay estuary.

“Some people say the applicant is an international conglomerate, but they have acted as a good corporate citizen in the Valley with their work to deal with derelict vessels, control eel grass and more,” Morrison said.

“We did not know what the report contained until after the decision was made to approve the rezoning application, but my hope, because the applicant has said it’s invested and committed to the community, is that they would take these good scientific suggestions and implement what makes sense in planning their stormwater systems. No decision is perfect, but, on balance, I have to have hope that some of the applicant’s past actions are indicative of their future actions.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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