Dr. John Gunton details his expectations for the 10th January CRD/JBNA Meeting


Below are Dr. John Gunton’s expectations for the CRD presentation on the 10th January at the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA) monthly meeting. 

“I am hopeful that I will learn something new at the meeting as the CRD continues to advance the project. Seemingly additional data is being brought to the design of the Forcemain and I am anxious to know what that will tell us.

I am concerned that people are preoccupied with the bike path, parking and other issues that are secondary to the construction of the Forcemain. No one is challenging the safety of the proposed route or the fact that the future costs remain a complete mystery. We need a cost comparison between what CRD is proposing and the sea floor pipeline proposal made over a year ago by us.

The KWL geotechnical report identifies the same areas along the proposed route that we identified a year ago. CRD appears to accept the KWL statement that the pipeline can be constructed without impacting the stability of Dallas Bluffs. KWL makes this statement in spite of identifying potential geotechnical failures which they claim can be mitigated by relocating the pipeline 9 metres north of the alignment as originally proposed over the high risk sections. There is insufficient room to accommodate the relocation at the Dallas-Douglas corner not to mention that in the event of catastrophic slope failure or seawall collapse, 9 metres is minimal: pick a number and hope for the best! As witnessed by the recent Johnson Street cave-in and the associated watermain rupture, excavating in the low-strength overburden of the Victoria region brings tremendous risk. Excavating a trench, the size of which is required to accommodate the Forcemain, has the potential to destabilize the bluffs and seawall. Any time an excavation disrupts the natural slope equilibrium and angle of repose of the materials comprising the bluffs, it sets up a recipe for catastrophic failure. It will be interesting to see the engineering solutions and the costs associated with them.

The CRD does not appear to have seriously considered the sea floor pipeline proposal. Why doesn’t the CRD tell us what the comparative costs might be? Perhaps they don’t know?

I am also deeply concerned because they (KWL – Stantec – CRD) do not appear to have adequately addressed the matter of a seismic event although the claim is made that they are designing to a standard >M7: at the same time they recognize potential failure due to a seismic event of this magnitude. An event as high as M9+ is expected in the next 50 years close enough to Victoria that it will cause incredible infrastructure damage. This magnitude of seismic event has in fact been used in the tsunamis model completed for the CRD by AECOM so they recognize that an event of this magnitude could occur. In addition, there is no evidence of  modelling from potential incidental local tsunamis caused by slope failure of terrain into the Salish Sea. They refer to a technical paper by Barrie and Greene of the Geological Survey of Canada describing the possibility of an active fault to the south of Victoria and the probability of a seismic event exceeding M7. The map of the proposed alignment in the KWL report identifies a fault running parallel to the bluffs and seawall referenced from Barrie and Greene. In fact Barrie and Greene show the fault to be several kilometres further south and therefore the KWL report is in error and Barrie and Greene have been misquoted. Despite offers to introduce the KWL team to Dr. Vaughn Barrie and other world experts (Dr. Garry Rogers) in earthquake prediction (just up the road in Sidney) there is no indication that either has been consulted.  Nor is there any indication that the Geological Survey of Canada’s expert, Dr. Jan Bednarski, in Quaternary sediments, (the very material to be trenched) has been contacted despite a willingness to be consulted. One would expect key Federal Government experts to sign off on a project of this magnitude where approximately one third of the funding is Federally sourced.

Congratulations to Michels for successfully drilling the pilot hole under the Outer Harbour. Michels successfully controlled a number of frac outs that were encountered while drilling the pilot hole that we predicted. I am anticipating and hopeful that they will continue to maintain circulation as they back ream the hole to reach the desired diameter. I am looking forward to an update of this project and hoping that it will continue to be successful despite the fact that it is unnecessary, had CRD accepted a sea floor pipeline proposal made by us, potentially saving $36 million..

The key point here is that the public are unaware of the risks and costs associated with the proposed Forcemain route under Dallas Road and appear to be more concerned about making sure there is adequate parking and that the bike pathway will be wide enough! Not one question was asked at the Victoria councillors’ meeting challenging the idea that the Forcemain could be constructed safely without damaging our critical waterfront. Where are the priorities of our leaders and where is the accountability of our public servants?”