The improved relationship between the Tsawwassen First Nation and Delta could face a serious challenge as the TFN wants Delta's ownership of a sewer system taken away.
In a recent letter to Greg Moore, chair of the Greater Vancouver Sewage and Drainage District, TFN Chief Kim Board inquired about a Delta owned sewer main that runs from south of the Annacis Island treatment plant to a boundary with TFN lands.
She noted that pipe recently received an extension alongside Highway 17 and had significant upgrades and investment by Delta, while the TFN continues to explore long-term infrastructure servicing.
"TFN understands that Delta has prepared a capacity assessment of this line and is prepared to engage in further discussions in respect of providing sewer servicing to the TFN," she wrote.
"TFN is proposing that, to enable the provision of sewer servicing to TFN, GVS&DD take ownership of that infrastructure from the Corporation of Delta. TFN is prepared to compensate Delta for this transfer on behalf of GVS&DD... It is our understanding that GVS&DD staff have indicated that the transfer of ownership of the pipe would be an acceptable long-term servicing solution."
The TFN is planning for massive growth over the next few years, including two major shopping centres, thousands of homes as well as developing land for industrial purposes. A hotel complex is also a possibility.
How all that will receive sewer servicing is unclear.
Mayor Lois Jackson also wrote to Moore, noting Delta's engineering staff retained a consultant to assess the system capacity and forecast its capability to accommodate future sewage flows for the next 25 years.
Delta is prepared to provide the technical information to the TFN and the regional district, she said, but "on the strict understanding Delta is in no way committed to providing TFN sewer services" outside of an interim agreement signed last year.
TFN CAO Doug Raines recently told Delta council the First Nation is now part of Metro Vancouver's water district, but not the sewage district. It has moved with the provincial government to change the Greater Vancouver Sewer District Act to make the TFN a member of that body as well. He said once the First Nation is a member, the next steps are likely discussions with the regional district and Delta.
Last year, Jackson raised concern about her municipality potentially being forced to service the sewer needs of TFN's massive growth.
Delta CAO George Harvie noted Metro Vancouver CEO Johnny Carline declined a request to appear before council to answer questions on what's taking place and how Delta could be impacted.
A spokesperson for the regional district at the time told the Optimist there was no comment by Metro on the issue.
Delta had agreed to sign a temporary, five-year agreement with the TFN to access Delta's sewer pipes, but only on a limited basis.
At the time, Delta officials stated that any attempt by Metro Vancouver to link sewer service provisions to Delta after the temporary agreement would be seen as unacceptable.
A report to council noted Delta has always maintained that Metro Vancouver and TFN need to find a solution in order to meet long-term sewer requirements of the TFN.