Greater Victoria sewage PR to cost $1.6 million

Seaterra program commission approves communications, archeological services contracts at Feb. 28 meeting

A commission of appointed members at the Capital Regional District unanimously approved $1.6 million in communications contracts Friday for the CRD’s secondary sewage treatment project, Seaterra.

Acumen Communications Group received a $1.5-million contract for stakeholder and public engagement through 2018. Another $100,000 contract was awarded to Taiji Brand Group to design “Seaterra program education and awareness campaign” paraphernalia, according to a staff report.

“I do feel the products and the work (Acumen) is doing is very important for the community … and for the success of this project. You can’t necessarily have staff in-house doing this work without hiring (more) people,” said commission member Pam Elardo at Friday’s meeting. Elardo is also director with the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, wastewater treatment division in Washington State.

Acumen has billed the CRD approximately $185,000 since May to create a strategic program communications plan and provide ongoing services as requested.

CRD spokesman Andy Orr told the Seaterra commission that the project is no longer in the public consultation phase and that ongoing communications will focus on engagement with affected communities.

“Much of the work we’re doing now is really what I’d categorize as engagement. It’s not fair to say to the people … ‘you have a choice,’ when the decision’s been made,” Orr told commissioners.

“The public doesn’t fully understand that the Seaterra program is actually now in mandation,” said Albert Sweetnam, Seaterra project director. “It’s now about engagement.”

Commissioners also approved a $600,000 archeological contract to Millennia Research to assist with the anticipated excavation of human remains during construction.

Sweetnam said an underground pipeline between Clover Point pumping station and the McLoughlin Point wastewater treatment plant is expected to uncover significant human remains from ancient Esquimalt and Songhees Nation settlements.

Earlier this year, the City of Victoria approved a First Nations burial ground at Beacon Hill Park for reinterment of human remains.

The seven-member Seaterra program commission is responsible for approving all sewage-related contracts, while cost overruns must be approved by the CRD board.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Original story (as appeared in Feb. 28 edition of Victoria News)

A commission of appointed members at the Capital Regional District is set to approve $1.6 million in communications contracts today (Feb. 28) for the Seaterra program.

CRD staff are recommending Acumen Communications Group receive a $1.5 million contract for stakeholder and public engagement through 2018.

Another $100,000 contract will be awarded to Taiji Brand Group to design and print “Seaterra program education and awareness campaign” paraphernalia, according to a staff report.

Brenda Eaton, chair of the seven-member commission appointed to oversee the Seaterra program, was out of the country and could be reached for comment. Vice chair Colin Earl Smith was unavailable for comment.

Acumen has billed the CRD approximately $185,000 since May to create a strategic program communications plan and provide ongoing services as requested, said Seaterra project director Albert Sweetnam.

Sweetnam was responsible for reviewing and tweaking the communications plan before it was presented to the commission.

“I kept the focus on basically reaching out more to the public and having full engagement with the public during the construction phase,” Sweetnam said. “I find a fully informed public is much better to deal with, and the CRD in the past has not been doing enough of this.”

The commission is responsible for approving all sewage-related contracts, while cost overruns must be approved by the CRD board.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

 

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