Prowse Road Lift Station

AAP Update: June 19, 2019

At the Regular Council Meeting held June 18, 2019 “Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 1264, 2019 Capital Improvement Financing Bylaw, Prowse Road Lift Station” was adopted.

AAP Update: June 18, 2019

The total number of valid Elector Response forms required, from at least 10% of the electors of the Town of Gibsons, was previously calculated to be 372. Staff received 334 Elector Response forms opposing the adoption of Bylaw 1264. Approval of the electors has been obtained for the adoption of “Loan Authorization Bylaw 1264, 2019 – Capital Improvements Financing Bylaw”, Prowse Road Lift Station.

Read the related Staff Report: Results of Alternative Approval Process -2019 Prowse Rd Lift Station

AAP Update: June 13, 2019

The deadline for submitting a response form in opposition to the proposed borrowing initiative described below has now passed. The forms received before the deadline will be certified and counted by the Town’s Corporate Officer, and the results announced at the Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, June 18th at 7 pm.

Public Information Session – Tuesday June 4, 2019

Two separate public information sessions about the Prowse Road Retrofit were held on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. At these sessions, Dave Newman, Director of Infrastructure Services, gave a short presentation, reviewing the project and then answered questions from the audience. You can view the accompanying PowerPoint slide show of his presentation here.

Alternative Approval Process Information Package

The Town of Gibsons has planned a number of upgrades to the Prowse Road lift station, which have been budgeted at approximately $1.76 million. There is no capital reserve in place for these upgrades and applications for grant funding for the project have not been successful. Accordingly, the Town is proposing to borrow the money necessary to finance this project. Before it may borrow the required capital, the Town must administer an Alternative Approval Process (AAP) – a form of approval that allows electors to indicate whether they are against a local government proposal moving forward.

The complete package for the AAP for the Prowse Road Lift Station may be downloaded here: AAP-LA1264-Information Package Cover and Index.

This FAQ document was created to answer the questions we are hearing most often from Town of Gibsons’ residents with regard to this project.

Frequently Asked Questions
What does the lift station do?

The Prowse Road Lift Station is a significant infrastructure component of the Town’s sanitary collection system, providing service for roughly 40% of Gibsons’ sanitary flows. Sewage from the eastern portion of the Town, which cannot drain by gravity directly to the wastewater treatment plant, drains to the Prowse Road Lift Station, and is then pumped via a force main to the wastewater plant for treatment.

Why are the upgrades required?

Constructed in 1972, the Prowse Road Lift Station is a very old (and essential) infrastructure asset that, like all infrastructure, requires ongoing investment to ensure it continues to deliver an acceptable level of service. A retrofit and eventual replacement of the Prowse Road lift station have been components of the Town’s long-term asset management plan since 2008. The need to move forward with this work has now become urgent, with planned upgrades to include replacing corroded pipes, improving the wet well and updating valves and electrical components. These upgrades are also expected to help the lift station better sustain extreme weather events, which have become more common in recent years.

A catastrophic failure at the lift station could lead to the overflow of sewage into Gibsons Harbour. This would have a significant negative environmental impact and also expose the Town to substantial provincial fines that could surpass the cost of the upgrades.

Are these upgrades also designed to increase capacity at the lift station, so that it can serve new development in the Prowse Road catchment area?

While additional users will increase daily stress on the lift station, the primary goal of the planned retrofit is to address the condition of the pump station, not to increase its capacity.  The Town is adding capacity to its wastewater treatment system by improving its Wastewater Treatment Plant. The improvements to the wastewater treatment plant, which have been budgeted at approximately $1.8 million, will be funded by user fees, reserves, development cost charges, funds from gas taxes and a New Build Canada grant.

Which areas of Gibsons are serviced by the Prowse Road Lift Station?

The lift station currently handles approximately 40% of Gibsons’ sanitary flows. The map below shows the neighbourhoods which are served by the lift station. (Click on it to see enlarged version.)

What is the long-term plan for the Prowse Road Lift Station?

There are three phases of construction planned:

  • Phase 1 – near-term upgrades to immediately address the lift station’s poor condition. It is estimated that these improvements, together with scheduled upgrades to the Town’s wastewater treatment plant, will address Gibsons’ wastewater needs for at least the next 15 years. This phase includes assessing the force main to determine remaining life.
  • Phase 2 – replacement of the force main between Gower Point Road and the Wastewater Treatment Plant. A recommended date for this work will be known once Phase 1 is complete.
  • Phase 3 – complete reconstruction of the lift station sometime around 2035.
Why not do a complete reconstruction of the lift station now?

There are several reasons for this, including:
1. Approximately $1.8 million of infrastructure is not needed for 20 years, but would still be deteriorating
2. Savings of at least $1 million in interest charges over 20 years
3. Additional debt would increase annual user fees
4. Additional partial retrofits may be possible after 20 years, before reconstruction
5. Postponing the reconstruction will provide opportunity to increase reserves to offset the reconstruction costs
6. Additional debt impacts Town’s ability to borrow funds in future
7. Allows the opportunity to investigate options to address sea level rise

Where will the money to pay down the debt come from?

Funds collected through the Town’s Development Cost Charges (DCCs) program, Excess Services Charges Bylaw 1261-2018 and User Fees (i.e. annual sewer fees charged to Town of Gibsons’ residents via their semi-annual utility bill) can be used to offset the payment of the debt principle.

Development Cost Charges are fees collected from developers to cover the costs of new infrastructure (e.g. water and sewer lines) required to service all new development.

The Excess Services Charges Bylaw 1261-2018 was adopted by Council in 2018. It enables the Town to charge developers who are developing property within the Prowse Road catchment area for the resulting increase in flows to the lift station. These charges are to be used to fund current and future sewer-related work within the Prowse Road catchment area.

Will my sewer rates go up in order to pay for this project?

Based on the Town’s long-range financial planning, sewer rates are expected to rise by about 5% each year until 2029. These increases reflect all planned infrastructure replacement and debt, including the Prowse Road Lift Station. The increases are also intended to build our sewer reserves, so there are funds available for infrastructure replacement in the future.

Is the developer of the George contributing toward the retrofit of the lift station?

Yes. In 2015, Council resolved that the Town enter into an agreement with the developer of the George. This agreement included the provision that the developer pay a proportional amount of the Prowse Road Lift Station retrofit, which was deemed to be $144,695.10. This amount was calculated using the fee schedule that was ultimately adopted through bylaw by Council in 2018. Additionally, the developer of the George will be replacing a section of sanitary main from in front of Winegarden Park to the Prowse Road Lift Station.

What is the anticipated timing of this project?

Design of the improvements, budgeted at $54,000, is largely complete. Before it may borrow the required capital, the Town must administer an Alternative Approval Process (AAP) which normally takes between four and six months. Provided the AAP is not opposed, construction of the upgrades would begin soon after that. As construction at the lift station requires relatively dry ground, the Town’s goal is to start the project by early fall 2019.

What will happen if the AAP is not approved (i.e. if 10% or more of eligible electors sign and submit response forms in opposition to the proposed borrowing initiative)?

If the AAP is opposed, the next step, should Council approve it, would be a referendum. This would allow all eligible Gibsons’ electors to vote on whether or not the Town should borrow the money needed to fund the retrofit of the lift station and would need to occur within 80 days of the close of the AAP (June 12th.)

How much would a referendum cost?

A referendum would cost Town of Gibsons’ taxpayers an estimated $30,000.

What if residents vote against borrowing the money to fund the retrofit through the referendum?

As the retrofit is urgently required to ensure the lift station does not fail (and possibly release raw sewage into the Gibsons Harbour), the funds would have to come from another source. As the Town does not have the funds required available in its reserves, the most likely option would be to administer a levy against each property and continue applying for funding grants.

Prowse Road Lift Station Timeline and Related Reports

The following is a complete timeline of the Prowse Road Lift Station upgrade project, with all relevant reports provided as links.

2007
  • Town of Gibsons’ DCC Bylaw 670 updated. (2007 DCC Review). The revised DCC rates are based on a background report prepared by Urban Systems in 2006, which includes the replacement of the Prowse Road lift station in their calculations.
2008

Recommendations include:

  1. Assessment of the condition of the Prowse Road lift station
  2. Retrofit of the Prowse Road lift station to address condition and short-term capacity
  3. Ultimate replacement of the Prowse Road lift station to address buildout capacity
  4. Diversion of some flows away from Prowse Road lift station to the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) via the new section of sanitary sewer on North Road
  5. Upgrade of shoreline sanitary sewer between School Road and Prowse Road
2009
  • Prowse Road condition assessment report completed by Paragon Engineering. Paragon reports that the condition of the lift station is “Fair to Poor” and recommends reconstructing the lift station to address both condition and future capacity issues. A cost estimate of $1.4 million is provided.
2009 to 2012
  • Funding for upgrades to, or the reconstruction of, the Prowse Road lift station is included in four consecutive Five Year Financial Plans.
2012
  • Staff is instructed by Council to apply for a Gas Tax Grant for 100% funding of replacement of the Prowse Road lift station. Cost estimate update of $2.02 million is based on analysis provided by KWL.
2013
  • In January 2013, the Town learns it has not successfully secured grant funding.
  • Five Year Financial Plan includes funding for replacement of Prowse Road lift station. Construction is scheduled for 2015 to allow time to seek other grant opportunities.
  • Initial application re) George Hotel is submitted to Gibsons Council
2014
  • Five Year Financial Plan includes funding for replacement of Prowse Road lift station. Construction is now scheduled for 2017 to allow time to a) complete advance work to the Town’s sanitary system, which would inform the Prowse Road designs and b) prepare the initial designs in order to provide more accurate construction budgets.
  • With the development of the George Hotel now pending, staff asks KWL to compare three options for the lift station. These include:
  1. Complete reconstruction to address condition and capacity (Reconstruction)
  2. Short-term upgrade to address condition only (Retrofit)
  3. Constructing an additional pump station

Option 3 was ultimately abandoned, as it did not address the condition of the Prowse Road lift station.

  1. Capacity of the lift station is being restricted by the WWTP (not the lift station)
  2. The poor condition of the existing piping within the pump station presents a risk of full shutdown of the pump station
  3. The Net Present Value (NPV) of the Retrofit was $319,200, compared to $776,100 for the full Reconstruction.
  • While this memo states that the lift station “requires upgrades to address flows from new development”, it also states that “the station could increase its pumping capacity if the headwork at the WWTP is upgraded to accommodate the additional flow.”
  • Subsequently, KWL is commissioned to completed an operational audit on the Town’s WWTP. One of the key points of discussion is the need to construct a buffer tank ahead of where the sanitary flows enter the treatment plant. The tank would temporarily store high instantaneous flows from the Prowse Road lift station, as well as the normal gravity flows coming to the plant, and then release the stored volume at a controlled rate. This would prevent the screens located at the plant inlet from being overwhelmed and allow the Prowse Road lift station to operate more efficiently, thereby increasing the lift station’s capacity.
  • The Retrofit option to address the condition of the lift station is determined to be the best option, with the upgrades scheduled for 2019 expected to extend the life of the lift station by at least 15 years. Reconstruction is recommended to take place once the retrofitted lift station reaches capacity.
2015
  • Council directs staff to apply for a New Build Canada grant in the amount of $1.8 million for improvements to the WWTP, including construction of a buffer tank. (See Gibsons WWTP Grant Executive Summary.) This grant was awarded to the Town later in 2015.
  • North Road sanitary bypass is constructed to divert flows away from the Prowse Road lift station. The new sanitary bypass has not been fully commissioned, pending construction of the WWTP buffer tank.
  • Funding for Prowse Road Retrofit is included in Five Year Financial Plan, with a proposed 2017 construction date.
  • KWL provides Technical_Memo to provide options for funding the non-DCC portion of the Prowse Road Retrofit. An Excess Service Area Bylaw is determined to be the most viable option.
  • Council resolves that the Town enter into an agreement with the developer of the George. This agreement includes the provision that the developer pay a proportional amount of the Prowse Road Lift Station Retrofit, which is deemed to be $144,695.10. This amount is calculated using the fee schedule that was ultimately adopted through bylaw by Council in 2018.
2016
  • Funding for Retrofit of the Prowse Road lift station is included in the Five Year Financial Plan, with a proposed 2018 construction date. The budget includes an allowance for the replacement of a section of forcemain between the lift station and Gower Point Road.
  • After receiving a DCC Background Report from Urban Systems, Council adopts new DCC bylaw No. 1218, which includes revised DCC rates based on updated cost estimates for both the Prowse Road Retrofit ($623,000) and the Prowse Road Reconstruction ($2.2 million). For both projects, 53% of the costs are attributable to the present population, and 47% of costs are attributable to development.
2017
  • Funding for Retrofit of the Prowse Road lift station is included in the Five Year Financial Plan, with a proposed 2018 construction date. The budget includes an allowance for the replacement of a section of forcemain between the lift station and Gower Point Road.
2018
  • Funding for Retrofit of the Prowse Road lift station is included in the Five Year Financial Plan, with a proposed 2019 construction date. The budget includes an allowance for the replacement of a section of forcemain between the lift station and Gower Point Road.
  • Excess Services Bylaw 1261-2018 is adopted by Council. It enables the Town to charge developers who are developing property within the Prowse Road catchment area for the resulting increase in flows to the lift station. These charges are to be used to fund current and future sewer-related work within the Prowse Road catchment area and are in addition to any DCC’s the developer is required to pay.
2018 – 2019
  • A detailed design (2019 Draft Prowse Design Drawings) and updated Prowse Road cost estimate for the proposed lift station Retrofit are prepared by KWL. Based on these updated costs, Council is currently contemplating a change in the Excess Service Charges included in Bylaw 1261.
  • Due to inadequate reserves, Council approves initiating an Alternate Approval Process, in order to borrow the $1.758 million required to complete the Prowse Road Retrofit.
  • Council awards the construction of the WWTP improvements, including the buffer tank. Anticipated completion date is September 2019.
  • KWL provides new NPV comparison between Prowse Road Retrofit ($760,588) and Reconstruction ($1,543,454) options. See report here: 2019-05-29_ProwseNPV-Memo-FINAL.