What key components are included with each project (Whiffin Spit and Kaltasin)?

    Each project (Whiffin Spit and Kaltasin) can be broken down into three major components: 

    • Forcemain 
    • the Collection System 
    • and a Pump Station. 

    The estimated costs for each area are unique for the neighbourhood, given the infrastructure required. Please see tables below for estimate project costs:

    Whiffin Spit Area - Estimated Project Costs:

    Project Component
    Estimated Project Costs*
    Whiffin Spit Forcemain$2.0 million
    Whiffin Spit Collection System and Low-pressure Pumps$12.0 million
    Pump Station$2.0 million
    ContingenciesProject costs include a 40% contingency
    Total Cost$16.0 million

    Kaltasin Area - Estimated Project Costs:

    Project Component
    Estimated Project Costs*
    Sooke Road Forcemain$3.0 million
    Kaltasin Collection System $4.7 million
    Pump Station$1.0 million
    ContingenciesProject costs include a 40% contingency
    Total Cost$8.7 million

    *Amounts provided are estimates and are subject to change.

    How will project costs be recovered?

    The District will look to recover the majority of project costs not covered by the grant through the annual property tax invoicing. Through this approach, existing and future taxpayers in the newly serviced area will be given the option to pay for sewer services either as a one-time lump sum cost or as an annual parcel tax for a period of 25 years. 

    The portions of the sewer project’s costs associated with servicing future development will be paid for by developers through (Development Cost Charges) DCCs.

    What is the cost breakdown for the expansion? How much will residents have to pay?

    The following provides an approximate cost breakdown for the sewer expansion and its three cost components that will be paid for by future sewer users. 

    a) Proposed parcel taxes (one time OR financed of 25-years) 

    Residents can select to pay the one-time fee or finance the fee over 25 years.

    For Kaltasin, the parcel tax may range between $7,500-$28,000 ($440-$1,650 per year if financed over 25 years) depending on the success of the grant application.

    For Whiffin Spit, the parcel tax may range between $8,900-32,800 ($525-$1,950 per year if financed over 25 years) depending on the success of the grant application. 

    Please see the area information sheet for further details:

    b) Operations and maintenance costs (annual costs)

    Operations and maintenance (O+M) costs are required to pay for the ongoing operation of the wastewater treatment plant, pumps and collection systems, as well as replacing parts of the system as they age. O+M costs are not included in the project costs presented. O+M costs will be charged as a separate fee on all properties and units receiving sewer services; vacant properties will not pay the O+M user fee. 

    Total annual O+M costs for current users in the existing sewer service area are $653 per unit per year. It is anticipated that your annual sewer servicing will be comparable.

    c) On-site Costs (one-time fixed costs) 

    Property owners will be required to pay for on-site costs to tie into sewer mains at the property lines, decommissioning the septic system as well as ongoing maintenance.

    Overall, costs for each household will be unique: on site costs will vary based on the location of the building on the property and the access points to connect to the sewer. The typical one-time on-site costs for a single-family residence could range from $2,000 to $7,000 with additional costs for properties where on-site pumps are required.

    If the sewer expansion were to occur, its anticipated parcels with existing buildings will be required to hook up to the Sewer System within two years.


    In total, every parcel owner will be required to pay the proposed parcel tax (either one-time or financed over 25 years) (item "a" described above), annual O+M user fees and on-site costs (item "b" described above); including installing the connection between the building and the sewer mains at the property line; decommissioning the septic system; and on-site maintenance (including the maintenance on any on-site pumps where required) (item "c" described above).

    Total cost to owner = (a) + (b) + (c)

    What are the next steps in this project?

    District staff are actively seeking grant opportunities to offset the costs for potential sewer expansion into Whiffin Spit and/or the Kaltasin area. Earlier this year, the district submitted an application for funding and continues to seek other grant opportunities. A response to the grant which initiated the December 2021/January 2022 engagement with property owners is expected early in 2023. 

    The ability to secure grant funding has significant financial impacts on the cost of expansion to property owners and is expected to affect final decisions on expanding sewer services to Whiffin Spit and/or Kaltasin. 

    If the District of Sooke is successful with its grant application, the District will proceed with establishing a Local Area Service including a Loan Authorization Bylaw through a Petition Against process. This process provides an opportunity for those not in support of the expanded sewer service to express their opposition. If at least 50 percent of owners representing at least 50 percent of the assessed value of land identified in the area (Whiffin Spit and Kaltasin are independent service areas) sign the petition against, then the new service for the area will not be created and the project will not proceed.

    At this time, if the District is not successful with its grant application, it is unlikely we will continue to explore sewer service expansion in these areas; however, this is a conversation we are interested in continuing with property owners at the Project Open Houses. 

    Tell me more about the local area petition process. When will this take place? 

    Because the District will need long-term financial borrowing to establish the Local Area Service and expand the sewer system, the District needs the approval of property owners in the potential service area(s) (i.e., Whiffin Spit and Kaltasin) to do so. The District will initiate a Local Service Area Petition Against process to determine if property owners in the potential service area(s) oppose the servicing of the area and the associated costs. 

    Two separate petition processes will take place: one for Whiffin Spit, and one for Kaltasin.

    The petition processes will not begin until the grant status is known. Residents will be notified by direct mail of the petition process and have at least 30 days to respond. Information will also be posted on the District website and at letstalk.sooke.ca/wwplanning.

    Tell me more about the environmental benefits and the expressed environmental concerns.

    As part of developing the Stage 3 Liquid Waste Management Plan in 2010, the Advisory Committee identified an interest in creating a prioritized list of future areas for inclusion in Sooke’s Sewer Service Area based on both economic (cost) and environmental concerns. At this time, Whiffin Spit North and Kaltasin catchments were determined as high priority catchments for inclusion in the SSA, as was Whiffin Spit South. The choice to consider the entire Whiffin Spit catchment area for future inclusion in the SSA helps to achieve environmental goals and make the potential expansion more affordable for property owners through cost-sharing. 

    The results of more recent and ongoing monitoring show that the greatest threats to water quality in the Sooke Inlet, Harbour and Basin are likely a combination of:

    • rainwater runoff from polluted areas (e.g., roads, impervious areas, pet farms, etc.),
    • natural wildlife populations, and 
    • populated areas that have septic system only and are not connected to the sewage system. 

    However, 2021 stormwater monitoring results demonstrate that sewage is still present in the Sooke Harbour with specific traces to human bacteria. Given what we know about historic areas of concern, the risk of failing septic systems and evidence of human bacteria, the Kaltasin and Whiffin Spit areas continue to be priority sewer expansion areas. 

    Tell me more about installation. Can access be done by a property owner?

    Should the District proceed with the sewer expansion, property owners will be responsible for conducting all work on private property. The work required to connect to the sewer system will vary depending on the property and may include, but is not limited to:  

    • Choosing and contracting the appropriate tradespeople 
    • Receiving a permit for the sewer connection as required by Bylaw No. 70, Building Regulation Bylaw, 2001
    • Connection to the sewer service at the property line 
    • Installation and electrical connection of grinder pumps (if required)
    • Decommissioning of septic systems 
    • Payment of fees
    • Any other regulatory requirements that may apply to specific private properties (for example some properties may have environmental, archaeological, riparian, or other requirements) 

    How long will the construction projects last? How will traffic be managed during construction?

    Responses to the grant application are expected in Spring 2023. If the grant and petition process is successful, preliminary dates for construction and implementation are targeted for 2023-2024, with the wastewater system brought online in spring of 2025. Following this timeline, detailed design would occur in summer of 2023, at which point system routes, road closures and impacts on traffic, including the necessary traffic management plans would be better known.

    If sewer service expansion benefits the community, by helping restore the basin, why are specific neighbourhoods paying for this service and not the entire community?

    Properties currently connected to the District’s sewer system have been paying a number of fees in order to receive this service which has provided historic benefits to the entire community. Like potential new users, these existing properties have paid for, or are paying:

    • Parcel Taxes - to recover the capital cost of the existing sewage collection and treatment facilities
    • Operations and Maintenance Costs (through the Parcel Tax) – to support the ongoing operation of the wastewater treatment plant, pumps, and collection system as well as replacing parts of the system as they age, and
    • On-site Costs – to pay for the physical connection into the sewer main at the property line and fees associated with decommissioning the septic system, if applicable.

    This means that users on septic today have historically been receiving these community-wide benefits thanks to users connected to the sewer system. Therefore, it is the responsibility of new users to pay their fair share when added to the system. 

    Overall, the costs seem astronomical. A 40% contingency shows a lack of thought into this project. How accurate is the budget? What will happen in the event of a cost overrun?

    For many projects, a contingency is included to budget and prepare for unknown or unpredicted costs. It is important to recognize that although estimates are made based on best-judgement, professional knowledge, experience and information available at the time, there are several factors that impact these costs that can change, especially with time. This is why a contingency is provided.

    For projects that aren’t fully designed yet, the unknown or unpredicted costs are typically larger than projects that are in the final stages of design. For this reason, projects in their early stages have a higher contingency to account for the larger number of unknowns. This is why a 40% contingency is used on cost estimates for the potential sewer expansion. 

    If the project costs are greater than the total amount of money from the grant and the amount approved by the public through the Loan Authorization Bylaw, the District would need to find an alternative funding source. This level of contingency makes the need for an alternative funding source less likely. If costs are lower than expected as the final design is complete, these savings would be passed onto property owners. 

    What financing options are available? 

    If the sewer service is expanded, property owners are responsible for paying the proposed parcel tax. The proposed parcel tax is the remaining amount of money to construct the sewer system after grant funding and/ or development cost charges have been account for. Property owners will have the option of paying the parcel tax as a one-time charge or an annual amount financed over 25 years.