Bringing critical wastewater management services to Royston and Union Bay

The proposed Sewer Extension South Project will move wastewater from homes and businesses in Union Bay and Royston through a new sewer pipe where it will connect to the Comox Valley Sewer Service, creating a regional approach for the treatment of wastewater. This new regional system will also serve Union Bay Estates and K’ómoks First Nation Treaty Settlement Lands, for which development and economic growth will be an important part of reconciliation.

In June 2022, it was agreed that planning for this project should be rolled into the Comox Valley Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP) to be submitted to the province as an addendum in early 2024. Public Advisory and Technical Advisory Committees have been established to help develop the addendum and community engagement will inform their work. Follow this page to receive the latest news and updates about the project and how you can have your voice heard.

Community Open Houses

Open houses are currently being planned for late January 2024 to introduce and summarize the draft addendum and share new project information. Please watch here for upcoming event information – there will be options to attend in-person and online.

Project Map

Scroll through our story map or search for your address to see if your property is proposed to be included in the project boundaries.

Project News


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Darry Monteith

Manager of Liquid Waste Planning

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Key Topics

Key Topics

This project will provide many benefits to impacted residents, including improving operational efficiencies and cost savings. It will also address:

  • Environmental protection: Aging septic systems in Royston and Union Bay are at increased risk of failure and leaking systems threaten human health and the environment in Baynes Sound.
  • Reconciliation with K’ómoks First Nation: The new regional system will include service to the K’ómoks First Nation Treaty Settlement Lands south of Courtenay, where further development is planned. Should the treaty be ratified, development and economic growth of these lands will be an important part of reconciliation.
    The project will also help ensure safe access to shellfish for the K’ómoks First Nation for food, social and ceremonial purposes, and support their aquaculture interests in Baynes Sound.
  • Anticipated growth in the area: The capacity of existing properties to support alternative housing solutions is limited without proper sewer servicing and affordable housing is a key strategic priority for the CVRD Board.

The total project cost for Phase 1A is currently estimated at $63 million. This includes $44.3 million for the regional sewer line and Phase 1A pump stations and $18.7 million for the Phase 1A Royston and Union Bay community collection systems.

The $30-million provincial grant will cover approximately half of the project costs for Phase 1A. The remaining cost of constructing the infrastructure would be funded through partner contributions ($30.8 million) and borrowing ($5.8 million).

There are two categories of costs for homeowners anticipated for this project:

  • One-time costs which will vary from home-to-home and are the responsibility of the homeowner
  • Ongoing annual costs that will be billed by the province and the CVRD

One-time costs for Phase 1A homeowners include costs for connecting from the house to the new sewer line – ranging from $1,500 to $6,500 depending on the type of property, which will impact the length of pipe and plumbing required. One-time costs also include decommissioning a septic system ($1,000-$2,000). This brings the total one-time cost estimate to $2,500 to $8,500. This estimate is based on current market conditions.

Annual costs for Phase 1A homeowners are estimated at $1,930 to $2,350 per household. This equates to $1,400-$1,700 annually for 25 years, plus $530-$650 annually for ongoing operations and maintenance. The cost for borrowing will be billed on the annual provincial property tax bill. The cost for operations and maintenance will appear on the CVRD quarterly utility bill.

Costs are currently at a class D estimate. As we move through the planning process and update the design, costs will be updated and refined. Updated costs will be included in the draft plan that will be presented to the community in early 2024.

Only Phase 1A will pay for the project; residents of future phases will not be responsible for costs until their communities are ready to connect. Timelines are not yet set for future phases and these costs will vary given market conditions at that time, so we cannot provide an estimate now. The CVRD will seek out partnerships and grant funding to keep future costs affordable.

Property owners will be responsible for works on their own property, which includes the connection from the house to the sewer line.

Septic tanks will also need to be decommissioned and left in a state where they cannot be used for the future treatment of wastewater. The tank could be physically removed or pumped out and backfilled in place.

On these maps the purple boundary areas indicate which homes will likely require grinder pumps in Union Bay and the Kilmarnock neighbourhood.

Union Bay residents would see grinder pumps installed in Phase 1A. And Kilmarnock residents would see grinder pumps installed in Phase 1B.

On this map the purple boundary area indicates homes that will need to install grinder pumps in Royston in Phase 1B.

Property owners would be responsible for installation, operation and maintenance costs of the grinder pumps. These pumps will typically last 10-15 years and cost around $3,000 with estimated annual operating costs of $40-$50 for a typical household. At this time, the CVRD does not have plans to offer a deferral or apply grant funding to this program.

Properties with a type 2 or 3 septic system newer than five years may qualify to delay connection to the community sewer by up to five years. Eligible homeowners will be required to apply. The complete details of this program are still under development and more information will be supplied to the community in the coming year.

Property owners may be able to defer property taxes if they qualify for one of two property tax deferment programs:

1. Regular Program:

  • 55 or older during the current year
  • A surviving spouse of any age
  • A person with disabilities

    2. Families with Children Program

    You may qualify for the Families with Children Program if you're a parent, stepparent or financially supporting a child. Requires a minimum of 15% equity in your home.

    You must also meet applicant, property and equity qualifications to be eligible for these programs. To learn more, visit the Province’s property tax deferment page.

    The plan for this project involves a phased roll-out, due to its scale and to keep per property costs reasonable. There are three proposed phases planned. See the phasing map to learn where your property fits in the proposed project boundaries.

    • Phase 1A: 460 properties in the historic cores of Royston and Union Bay. To be completed first and will see the $30 million provincial grant applied to the regional sewer pipe and neighbourhood collection systems.
    • Phase 1B: Additional portions of the Royston area as well as the Kilmarnock neighbourhood will be the next phase to be developed. Timing is currently unknown as additional grant funding will be required.
    • Future phases: In the future, smaller, lower density neighbourhoods where servicing is more expensive could be connected into the system. These neighbourhoods include Gartley Point, Spence Road and Garvin Road.
    • K’omoks First Nation Treaty Settlement Lands and Union Bay Estates: Timing of development of these privately owned lands is unknown at this time, however both communities will be responsible to pay for their own collection infrastructure when the time comes to connect to the regional sewer pipe.

    Phase 1A will provide the foundational infrastructure needed for connection of future phases as communities grow, and all future connections will benefit from this work.

    The plan is to install two pump stations in Phase 1A and one additional pump station in Phase 1B.

    Committees have recommended that a single storey Royston Pump Station be located at the base of Royston Road on the Northwest corner of the Royston Road/Marine Drive intersection. There are ongoing discussions to mitigate the potential impacts of coastal flooding for this pump station. Alternative options under consideration include:

    • Small community kiosk/underground pump station at proposed location, with a regional pump station located near Highway 19A
    • Kiosk at proposed location, with electrical equipment relocated outside of the flood zone up Royston Road

    For the Union Bay and Phase 1B Kilmarnock Pump Stations, locations are still undergoing review and consideration and community input will be considered as these decisions are made.

    • K’omoks First Nation: Should treaty be ratified, K’omoks First Nation will invest as a partner in the project to fund the regional sewer pipe. Service of Treaty Settlement Lands will allow for development and growth which will be an important part of reconciliation. K’omoks would finance and build its own local infrastructure when it is ready to connect to the system.
    • Union Bay Estates (UBE): UBE is a key partner on the project and the CVRD is currently working towards finalizing a contribution agreement. Because it will have funded its share of the regional pipe, UBE will be able to connect at any time. But in order to do so it will be required to finance and build its own collection system infrastructure.

    The new forcemain will be sized appropriately to accommodate future flows from K’ómoks First Nation Lands and Union Bay Estates.

    An archaeological impact assessment is being completed for the entire project area. Properties within 200 metres of a waterway or recorded archaeological site are subject to the KFN Cultural Heritage Policy. The CVRD will work with K’ómoks First Nation to provide these property owners with more information about what will be required when they connect to the system.

    Several studies and reports have informed the Sewer Extension South Project, including:

    • Review of Island Health septic system records and permits in the project area, including systems that were installed as far back as 1970. An analysis of this information was presented by Island Health to the Public Advisory Committee in November 2022.
    • A report from the working group chaired by the BC Centre for Disease Control following the 2018 norovirus outbreak. This report concluded that all transmission routes of norovirus into the marine environment originated from human sewage sources and that septic field seepage was among those identified as a plausible explanation for contamination.
    • A 2015 report by Associated Engineering provides a review of published information, including reports on the performance of septic systems in the project area and risks to human health and the environment.
    • A 2009 field sampling program completed by Payne Engineering Geology in the Union Bay and Royston areas identified an overall failure rate of 25% for septic systems, with the highest failure rate at 50% in Union Bay. By comparison, a similar study by the same author of septic systems in the Cape Lazo area found zero failures.

    A regulatory bylaw would help ensure septic systems in the electoral areas are properly operated and maintained in accordance with Sewerage System Regulation requirements. This new service could introduce required maintenance, including septic inspections, pump outs and enforcement measures.

    The proposed regulatory plan uses a risk-based approach tailored to the level of environmental and public health risk associated with septic systems, with electoral area neighborhoods at higher risk prioritized for additional regulatory measures.

    A phased roll-out over five years has been proposed with an initial focus on highest priority areas. The Electoral Areas Services Committee is currently considering further information on the proposed septic regulatory program, options to initiate it and provincial guidance on the process.

    A Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP) is a process used by local governments in BC to develop strategies for managing sewer services. This project is undergoing an addendum to the broader Comox Valley Sewer Service plan currently underway.

    Provincial approval of an LWMP gives local government the ability to borrow for projects included in the plan. This means no referendum or Alternative Approval Process (AAP) is required to move the approved plan forward.

    Through the LWMP process and in the final plan, the CVRD must demonstrate the community’s contributions and how public feedback was incorporated. Feedback from community open houses in June will be included in the addendum report submitted to the province. The community will have an opportunity to review that document before submission in late 2023 or early 2024.

    Further, a public and technical advisory committee (PACTAC), consisting of seven representatives from three different communities, was formed to review the process. Read more about the PACTAC and view the minutes or watch recordings of meetings.