Salt Spring Island Archives

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Sewer Problem

Frank Richards

Discussion of Ganges Sewer problem spanning 1940 - 1986

Interview with Frank Richards, publisher of the Gulf Islands Driftwood 1966

by Jacqueline Watson and her husband Maurice

three interviews

October 1995, May 1996 and August 1996

Accession Number Interviewer Jacqueline and Maurice Watson
Date 1995 to 1996 Location
Media 2 cassette tapes Audio CD mp3 √
ID 146 Duration




Unknown Speaker 0:08
So you you bought the paper in 1973 6619 66

Unknown Speaker 0:10
and we rented in different places to be that's how we

Unknown Speaker 0:27
know it's all so let's help so

Unknown Speaker 0:35
well are you originally from Canada? I'm originally just saying the I came here with the airport. And I came as a hi describe myself makers, the last of the transport criminals. I had a about seven civilian charges facing men local militia. And my CEO called me into his office he said the unison and what was face man? He said, A Why are you so fine. He wasn't pointed morning about that he would come and go. So he said if you had told me you were worried, he said I could have steered you right on it. So I sent her that. He said, Well, I would have recommended that you apply or Newsies and he said, everything will be canceled. So I said, you know, I just need to say I wish I goes. Next day Windows is like a

Unknown Speaker 1:50
and he remained here.

Unknown Speaker 1:52
No, I went back to Russia still set up, I went back to England. My first posting, I went home for Christmas. I then went down with Parrish, Nikes, Sonny and I are in hospital. And so when I came out, they decided I wasn't fit for service outside Britain. Rest of the time, I was being babied from one place to another. And as soon as all over I let Britain live the rest of my life. I go there regularly. In fact, I'm getting to 19 and how on earth I get my right

Unknown Speaker 2:50
in actual fact, I had a very interesting new inspiration, new religion. So sometimes dreams I felt when I moved to 70 What USANA

Unknown Speaker 3:13
continuing nightmares, yeah. Well, Maria, and I went to the newspaper and looked in the file on the sewer. And it looks like it's been a long, long battle. And I think what, what I'd like to find out is just sort of the, the high points I guess this all started in 1963 first

Unknown Speaker 3:42
started in 94. Just after the role, the Chamber of Commerce the harbor was getting kind of sticky, you should do something about it. And they Chamber of Commerce sponsor the committee and investigating the cost right because they drew up a solid sketch plans and put out a feeler for family and the owners of property in Ganges, a support them and so they had the engineer dry land and they established a project to cost $180,000 And they presented it to the property owners who turned it down to too much money

Unknown Speaker 4:37
and this was in 1940. The 40s

Unknown Speaker 4:43
I think it was the late 40s and this is why not hanging my age and burning it does make it a little difficult a week and we had the project in New Course The receives the data and can't read the answers. If the community were a municipality, we then we could try to get to the accused. He didn't talk to me.

Unknown Speaker 5:15
Or talking about that again or anything. Yes. Where did I get? I guess in talking about Tom Toynbee, he said something about some of the legal proceedings started in 1963. That permit applications for

Unknown Speaker 5:35
voiceovers in the 70s. It was in the 70s 1974.

Unknown Speaker 5:37
And, and so from well, let's just say from now, and you were here on the island, and you were with the newspaper in 74. And from a little bit of the reading that I've done it, it looks like the feelings ran quite strong.

Unknown Speaker 6:02
Yes, they, the, the main opponent of assertion was a bit darker. And she had property where the village market was there. And she identified the server object with morons who had a commercial property in Ganges and she decided that if the sewage went into Ganges, it would deprive her property of its value, and that was your food. But she was a very articulate it's very difficult. I fought so long, I didn't want to not have a she wasn't able to get her point over. She was a more soapbox, orator. And costs she didn't see around very many corners. And what she did eventually MacCracken herself, understand you couldn't do to any of the businesses in the vicinity of alcopops all the time this business going on it went on for 20 years. Without being if you were interested, you were in veiled into a debate on if you weren't interested. You have already. Well, the result was that he was stopped going on have a debate on the novel issues. When they went to debate these numbers. I think that was the biggest problem she had the

Unknown Speaker 8:07
reading a little bit here. She didn't didn't she oppose you for the capital Regional District.

Unknown Speaker 8:13
She was she was the income.

Unknown Speaker 8:19
She was incumbent. And you tried to unseat her.

Unknown Speaker 8:23
unsuccessfully. But by that time, the I think there were three forces opposing the suit. One was the environmentalists who oppose anything that would lead to greater development. The second factor was a event soon a supporters and friends and followers who opposed it because they were supporting her. And the third way and the means that was the New Democrats because a Mert, who was one of the forces behind this project was a crony who Curtis, who was our MLA at the time and Minister of Finance and

Unknown Speaker 9:24
excuse me, which when you say might which might

Unknown Speaker 9:27
be your cleaning company, Tom told me and he'd rather mostly, these were the names they took on the hat. In fact, they really to get you with Tom dick. Lead Rams in itself. Mind you, this was a way to became personalities, but the term to me was a surge of credit. And I suspect In the memory that led Ramsey was I wasn't as a liberal with any answers. As far as the NDP was concerned, the status is badly. It became a simply a straightforward dispute between the socialists in the soccer. This is what built up the strength. And that's a height not so much while the DP would bring all the big guns. They wanted to get rid of catheters and they wanted to, they figured they could. If they got rid of him, they could take C. And so eventually they got rid of him last team so that they were more helpful than it was my A got the why does it otherwise it would have reversed in the early 70s? Remember, you were the Queen Charlotte? One or 72.

Unknown Speaker 11:20
Now, you also mentioned that you were chairman of the super committee. Chamber of Commerce for how long? Yes. During the whole during this whole

Unknown Speaker 11:38
flow from the final stage, it went through from $180,000 project went through a gathering a dollars all the way Yeah, as a costs went up, restrictions went up, who demands went up and search. The next time it came up. It was in the vicinity of $400. And then went up to 100,000 million million and a half finished up somewhere around 2

Unknown Speaker 12:10
million over a 20 year period.

Unknown Speaker 12:14
Essentially a 30 year period. Yes, because say the first the first part of the project, the 180,000 came the end of a nice long, perhaps two decades. Debate by Jim Collins it was one of the things that was being investigated and investigated investigated and no one really expected to fail once we do this a MOS let's find a when it didn't it kind of I think that was in the 1960s and I have a hunch as to why came about 1966.

Unknown Speaker 13:05
So you were terminated for

Unknown Speaker 13:09
from the 19 a 1967 six year Bromley for Ralphie figure 1970 until the end of the road

Unknown Speaker 13:24
hotels What 1985 And it was for RV six wireless fine like

Unknown Speaker 13:30
it pretty well yet and they knew they by that time the committee was no longer concerned with it if it became a Regional District and what was holding it up then was simply that the the cost of installation had reached the point where it was out of reach of the beauty

Unknown Speaker 13:53
crane to my notes that the provincial government gave $700,000 to cover the infrastructure project. The residents couldn't afford that

Unknown Speaker 14:08
yes, I thought even more than that, they're gonna remember that and the it had reached the point where you would remember the stage and Ganges at that time you came here I had a London account as Davis we walk through Ganges who said it smells

Unknown Speaker 14:42
that's why we're trying to get a sewer. She said sewer should you mean drains so say that you have a town this size new and how many trains so they're not coming back?

Unknown Speaker 15:01
Well, we're back to Yvette Valcourt. Now, you, you are post her on. You tried to get her position on the capital Regional District?

Unknown Speaker 15:13
And were you chairman of the sewer committee at that time running? And could you have held both of those positions if you had been elected to the capital Regional District.

Unknown Speaker 15:26
Not only logical, it wouldn't be illogical because I said by this time, it was a real district this year. By that time. Only active a note is only nominally a heading campaign for a nominal thing we can see could have been a member of the chamber cause that to

Unknown Speaker 15:49
you as a member of the Chamber of Commerce and you were the chair he would

Unknown Speaker 15:53
discussing it about fibrous in my office years and years ago, and we named Tom Toynbee to be chairman of the search committee. And we just closed off and I said, you know, this is crazy. I said, the one man in the community who is going to be undefined all the time is done. And here we name him Chairman committee to guarantee that the committee loses all the possible stability. So Tom said, Who else we're gonna name I should name me and that's how I got volunteers. The editor, yes, yes.

Unknown Speaker 16:42
Well, then, after event Valcourt, I was reelected to her. Then, cording to some of these, like, what happened 20 years ago and 15 years ago and so forth. She was suspected of abusing her position on the capital Regional District to not allow development and or whatever. To enhance her properties. Is that what she found?

Unknown Speaker 17:18
Quite clearly, because she seen this many people going to have his way up to John

Unknown Speaker 17:37
did she lose your position over?

Unknown Speaker 17:40
A No, she lost her position when she was voted. The at that time, she had a very considerable following because she was the little French Canadian gal who was being screwed by Trump Toynbee and his thoughtful and they we've got quite a strong NDP faction here. Well, they've got NDP member who had an NDP member last one we have had the NDP trying to get the provincial seats as well. I mean, we have a big force here. And at that time, they were very very hot supporters on the right a I would say that my bitterest enemies on Saltspring Island were no know Mr. Jansen have a meet the engineering Jamie Owens doesn't happen. In fact the dawned on me that he should care about it.

Unknown Speaker 18:58
Missions ran so high. There was it must have been because then then you had this business of the 25 to a quarter million dollars worth of hype of Florida Bar. Harbor August of what 8081. August of 81 that the pipes were were burnt after things are in place and things are under construction and the pipes for the what the outflows were delivered. And then here you had this business of piping burned. Who did find was never saw that was never so I'm sure you had your suspicions of who might have done it.

Unknown Speaker 19:49
Never prove it. environmentalist.

Unknown Speaker 19:54
Oh, and then in December of 81, following August 21. That's when guard dog was shot and the equipment was was the construction equipment was destroyed.

Unknown Speaker 20:07
That was a second. Second. Yes. He wasn't really feeling

Unknown Speaker 20:20
own determination, of course, the strong determination to stop it was the strong, equally balanced mind strong determination, no need to go into

Unknown Speaker 20:33
other maneuvers to weren't weren't there along the way. Reference to appeal appeals went on all the time

Unknown Speaker 20:44
without being appealed to the court or to a legislative body.

Unknown Speaker 20:49
It was introduced to the court he there's a so long since I've had anything to do with it. It's vague in the back of my mind, there is a provision a calling for a review. governmental procedures, and the it's an automatic appeal of any area. See, it doesn't cost you a hell of a lot to invoke it. And that was the standard procedure all the way along every time a step was paid. It was all magically the same way as

Unknown Speaker 21:33
Jeff was taking us out of bag.

Unknown Speaker 21:35
Well, it wasn't wasn't an automatic complaint and go from there.

Unknown Speaker 21:46
The editorial

Unknown Speaker 21:55
hear this one Times columnist in the ad to

Unknown Speaker 22:06
direct except for an almost completed 3.8 Kilometer outfall has been put on hold. They're saying to those who believe the sewer is essential to solving pollution problems and Ganges stopping the project at this stage is irresponsible.

Unknown Speaker 22:22
In the field. It was a holding it up. And I didn't know and I didn't know too much about the philosophy behind all this. But the it appeared and still appears that the if the constant appeals were successful in holding it up, he could take 4 million to 4 million instead of two Oh, and a it would have become competely who are reach the provincial government had the had the answer, they could buy it one of two methods, the simple methods, they could have resolved the whole thing. But the Provisional Government doesn't operate that way nor does want to, it could have simply said, A we are making a special grant of a million dollars for this project. And it would have gone ahead, they could equally have changed their the legislation. And he installed it a by act of the legislature if necessary. But in both cases, they had two major problems. One was that a to make a decision that in the face of a strong opposition. Whereas you're going to be a very tricky issue. And it could be to their detriment in event in the election. In other words, a new way was you guys going to make such a move because he was afraid it might jeopardize his standing a and that went all the way through the cabinet. A new one wanted to take this risk. But then the Minister of Municipal Affairs in the act as was Bill Ricci and Bill Ritchie had decided he'd had enough. And so the last thing he did in office was announced this bailout for the Ganges sir. Now the danger of that bailout was that other communities could go to the governor and say look you you made a special allowance to a million dollars to the Ganges sewer, and we expect same thing. Well, the Ganges sir had become a joke by this time, while other people joke almost everyone concerned but it had reached the point where it made me sore servants wouldn't cancel So many of the civil servants civil servants and a, my son in law was say, Minister of Municipal Affairs for time. And he said he would see a delegation from Saltspring. And ser, a. My daughter was then his executive assistant. And the someone on the I think they said they wanted to see the minister. So she told Stephen that she'd had this call. He said, I'm not seeing anyone from your bloody island. So and he's, he was very, very outspoken and a great pain in his expressions at times. And I think all administrators seem to be now the way a, he said, Okay, look, you tell them that they will see us more than engaging. In New crafts, the delegation went to the Val says, she went to Steve's office and said the delegation from Salisbury. He said, our health better showed me. So he walked out the door. And they're about 20 or 30 people from the island. And he said, I told you, I would see a small delegation to Salisbury Island, not the whole effing Island.

Unknown Speaker 26:43
Well, so what I'm when I'm hiding, I guess, is that or understanding, I should say, is that really the the good and the need or the need of having a dish? Sure. And the good it would do? Help the waters and the pollution and so forth, really became secondary? Oh, yes, with all the factions of political factions fighting each other. And then the ongoing being that that the reason for even doing this became a secondary.

Unknown Speaker 27:27
That was a nothing to do with it, the whole thing was a battle over the manner in which a permit was issued, the pollution control board would issue a permit, they call and they were there before they issued a patent, they call for a hearing. The hearing meant that everyone who deemed himself concerned could make representation. And you could sit in on these hearings, which sat down and went for five days. And they, they, the opponents would bring in an engineer or a scientist of some kind. And he would spend five hours explaining why the project would be a detriment to everything in the vicinity. And so he would sit down and is the next one to speak would be a man with the same qualifications, who would spend five hours explaining how valuable that would be to the community said, that's how you finish there was no basis on which you could form a logical informed the conclusion. He said that to reference is synced and they say long for him to write.

Unknown Speaker 28:44
Well, then, all right. It has been in place for 10 years since it's happened.

Unknown Speaker 28:52
It has expanded the village

Unknown Speaker 28:54
village and the sewer, yes,

Unknown Speaker 28:57
a it was a the volume of sewage on the original permit has been increased. Obviously, because demand that once there was a complaint that it was say, the falling water that the very promptly the government investigating our new absence. So it has proven itself

Unknown Speaker 29:28
in this last article

Unknown Speaker 29:35
do we're working in over capacity? It has been Yes, it has been Yes. was originally set up for something like 40,000 gallons per day to be allowed to go into the waters only that tides carried out. But they were running closer to 90,000 The amendment to the permit now that would allow them this continuous discharge of water. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 30:09
Right. You're right. They shouldn't do it simply restrict everyone to flushing toilets.

Unknown Speaker 30:19
Well, it included a relatively small area of the island. Yes, three

Unknown Speaker 30:25
main memory. A originally about 140. Exactly how many then in nature? I'm not quite sure. But it was a simply those in the commercial area. Again Jews primarily commercial. Yes.

Unknown Speaker 30:48
But it included the sewers of the hospital and the school. And they connect into that.

Unknown Speaker 30:57
I can't remember what the hospital there must have been because no other way they could have operated all this time.

Unknown Speaker 31:05
And as a result of that, and hasn't Ganges as a village expanded and developed. The tourism has increased.

Unknown Speaker 31:14
Yes. The the residential. Major has changed. You got all these townhouses?

Unknown Speaker 31:26
Yes. Right. That's right, a townhouses

Unknown Speaker 31:30
as Kingfisher

Unknown Speaker 31:34
now I'd say, are they trying to expand expanded? Or are they trying to get more permits to, to to expand the sewer, the outfall as you say, not only let out, let it out during the uptime, but another another?

Unknown Speaker 31:57
We're going to because it doesn't agree with the permit. Okay, so the government steps in and prosecutes the couple of Regional District for allowing lawsuits to go down the bank that was originally agreed. How are they going to enforce any rule or they gave say, Okay, this suit is now closed, leaves a Ganges in smellier condition than when it started. It's one of those things that is very, very difficult to do in false. A a climate is a farm it is a permit. And the the only way of preventing it from going up in the future is to impose a ban on any further button which are existed for a long time and again, Jews tea,

Unknown Speaker 32:52
or there was a ban on development. Commercial or moves

Unknown Speaker 33:00
up here all during that time.

Unknown Speaker 33:04
There is not a ban now.

Unknown Speaker 33:08
Same as anywhere else. Remember, we didn't have the washing machine. We couldn't find a laundromat. Oh, that's right.

Unknown Speaker 33:17
We had to go over to Sydney here. Right? Yes.

Unknown Speaker 33:24
Mine lives in Sydney. He was a wing commander in the Air Force Colonel. And he was a he crashed the Sunderland and he came back to Canada. And he never intended to come back. But he came back because he had to settle somewhere. And he would talk to you and he'd say, I think I think we would do so. And he was shaking and could scarcely walk. He bought property on Saltspring Island, just move it here. And he told me later that his first job on the island was installing see the boxes for septic tanks. And he said also along was easy. But in winter, you had loaded rocks what we've seen. And that was the conditioning in the Ganges area, the up until the post war period and probably 20 years after the end of the war, everything and second of all, a there were various health restrictions and the limitations, but most of them were inadequate and those that existed only a few wherever by I suppose hadn't been otherwise a Ganges would either never have developed oils a long time

Unknown Speaker 35:00
went on for a good 20 years.

Unknown Speaker 35:04
Yes. A, because when I got into it almost as soon as I came to the island, and the final because then I have all the ducks in a row

Unknown Speaker 35:21
telling it Oh, you're arguing and battling about the 007? Yes.

Unknown Speaker 35:25
And you kept saying all along, the longer they keep fighting about it, the more expensive it's going to be. And if they did it now it would be cheaper. Much cheaper.

Unknown Speaker 35:40
There were claims and counterclaims as to the outfall, how far out it up and at one time we missed run it out further

Unknown Speaker 35:50
beyond the chain

Unknown Speaker 35:53
where it was supposed to go the first time?

Unknown Speaker 35:58
Yes, I think the first time would not have been satisfactory anyway, I think. A polluted motion the harbor didn't journey across. Like everyone else involved, I didn't realize how shallow the hole was.

Unknown Speaker 36:14
There's a description of it here of how shallow it is 30 to 60 feet was a narrow inlet three miles long, quite shallow for most of its length with a depth of 30 to 36 feet for about three quarters of its length increasing to only about

Unknown Speaker 36:34
reading one of the many feet or 90 meters on the shelf and

Unknown Speaker 36:44
dropped into where they said it came from was the day that would be discharging into the moving rock and they use that term where the current where the currents were available. That was a troll.

Unknown Speaker 37:07
Yeah. Is that what invade means? Make up some terms that there's not much movement.

Unknown Speaker 37:16
I remember the turn, I can't remember what elements.

Unknown Speaker 37:20
Something is bound by a bay and so I can't remember whether it would be everything to do with title. We've had the same thing in San Diego. That's where we live.

Unknown Speaker 37:46
can pay to put force into a bait or protection or shelter? to shatter and close offs around? So I guess the simply means in a bay

Unknown Speaker 38:02
fancy word for saying it's okay. I haven't seen that word.

Unknown Speaker 38:07
The water isn't big. Baby.

Unknown Speaker 38:13
Okay. All right.

Unknown Speaker 38:17
The walls was in my opinion. In my opinion, it was a necessity from a health scare. Yeah, there was a filthy stench. And there was a it was a illustrate when they were clearing the salmon stream running on the Ganges where the new shopping development is they the one fellow and to those working as long as washing hands in the water and the other fellow said you've got wash your hands in that water. It's filthy. He said if you've got on your hands when I got on my new washing anymore that was illustrative of the conditions there. And then it became first of all a personal issue between a the downtown Ganges interests which was a headed by Mozart's and the a the Valcourt interests at the top of the hill and that simply gave it a bad flavor. It was an invitation for a fraction anyway. And then it got a very outspoken, very rather irresponsible supporter in Yvette. He who would go to any But she would contemplate doing even if she didn't do that it became the era then it they developed as a set into a political upheaval and that brought in a such things as Pierre Pierre he was a columnist on one of the radio stations and he came over to a doing a series on it do a interview are standing on radio the day this evening this meeting was taking place a Tom toimi rang all his crooners in the town and said For God's sake keep out of the town because he is going to stir things up we could have fun and he was worried that this meeting was going to be so heated that some lawyer irresponsible elements could gardens and listen to a man who is normally liable to go off the handle that had told me what it was all

Unknown Speaker 41:17
in talking with him he was personally attacked. I mean there are a lot of people personally attacked with their words.

Unknown Speaker 41:27
I'm sure that immediate five or whatever. We're all personally

Unknown Speaker 41:32
I think a I don't remember whether I was attacked or not but I knew that the committee the attack in the legislature, your committee members were attacked in the legislature and then it went from a here to Vancouver and then it went a Guney series and so it became quite famous tea for all Oh, you still there are many places you're going to Victorian say I'm from the Ganges and they'll start became a standing joke everywhere that the end result it's been running successfully doesn't do well so far we've run quite successfully and getting through Ganges aggression it's a different place

Unknown Speaker 42:36
and what happened to about Valcourt

Unknown Speaker 42:40
they went and Victoria I haven't seen her

Unknown Speaker 42:52
she's a huge she got married her husband was a contractor was yours buildings

Unknown Speaker 43:07
are made better in my opinion I would be down here

Unknown Speaker 43:13
a mean wins on Rainbow Windsor a they sold out

Unknown Speaker 43:18
or they sold out

Unknown Speaker 43:20
a value crops could have or should have been much more successful than they were and started all kinds of businesses out there encourage people to come in and start a business that I think the when Gulf Street closed last week their options everything that he launched eventually they ran into simply they were there to zoom in few fish

Unknown Speaker 43:59
companies Yes. And it had something to do with

Unknown Speaker 44:05
any well planning

Unknown Speaker 44:07
or their runoff the water bacteria or something

Unknown Speaker 44:13
whether that was I think planning a I using a to gardening I guess environments

Unknown Speaker 44:22
were they connected to the sewer?

Unknown Speaker 44:27
That was a matter of fact I can remember being under fire. I couldn't understand why not because it seemed to me that they were dying to see like KBC but I can't seem using other chemicals

Unknown Speaker 44:39
or something I forgotten what

Unknown Speaker 44:44
retired 10 years. last 10 years is only as good as I've been neglectful. The day I retired. I said I do have listened to anything again goes on and

Unknown Speaker 45:06
he will be on the side reading scrobble

Unknown Speaker 45:11
So you you can have the newspaper them for 30 years and you built the circulation from from what to what 15

Unknown Speaker 45:32
and the island has grown I remember reading this summer there are estimates all the way between nine to 12,000 Yes

Unknown Speaker 45:45
I can't ask you this has been very very interesting.

Unknown Speaker 45:51
You've been through some stormy weather

Unknown Speaker 45:54
themes that quite a few times are set up to do the unpleasant things

Unknown Speaker 46:07
or a nasty

Unknown Speaker 46:10
doesn't show you how people can get riled up and get their emotions stirred and they lose sight of purpose

Unknown Speaker 46:26
the economics don't want any change forever there will be people going backwards.

Unknown Speaker 46:39
This has been very interesting.

Unknown Speaker 46:42
If I find my files would you be interested?

Unknown Speaker 46:46
Yes I work little thinner