Anyone hoping to see Rock Bay win the day and be named the site for a main sewage treatment plant for Greater Victoria’s core municipalities would have been left wanting on Friday.
The Capital Regional District’s (CRD) core area liquid waste management committee did, however, approve a recommendation that may offer flexibility in siting and technology options. The decision included a revisiting as part of the project, McLoughlin, Macaulay and Clover points, three locations not previously being considered.
With no agreement around the table on the best option, and the $1 billion-plus cost of each option presented to the public a major stumbling block to a decision, the committee split up the six parts of a staff recommendation rewritten by Victoria mayor and committee chair Lisa Helps. The recommendation was heavily amended during discussions at the nearly five-hour meeting.
The two parts relating to location, and the application of alternate technologies and solutions for chosen sites, were referred to CRD engineering staff. They will investigate the feasibility of the new options and provide committee members with more substantial details in time for discussion at the next committee meeting on March 9. The committee is also scheduled to bring a progress report to the full CRD board on that day.
“I think there’s a lot of work that’s been done today,” Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, who also co-chairs the Westside select committee, said afterward. “And I think that what we’ve done, by kind of broadening the options – even though I’m concerned that these are sites that have been (considered), then taken away or maybe not put up at all and not had the public consultation … we’ll figure out how to get through those kind of details.”
The first element CRD staff will be investigating leaves Rock Bay as the site for a central treatment plant and Colwood as the site of a smaller tertiary plant. But alternatives being costed out include a tertiary wastewater plant at either McLoughlin or Macaulay points, and a tertiary treatment plant at Clover Point, with provision for a tertiary plant on the westside.
Hartland landfill in Saanich is shown as the preferred site for sludge (biosolids) processing.
Part 2 of the referral to staff deals with inviting submissions of project concepts that relate to everything from new technologies to integrated resource management, and provide enough detail to compare them to the base case, which in this situation is Rock Bay.
Committee member and Langford Coun. Denise Blackwell questioned staff how long it would take to get more technical and cost information on Clover Point and the West Shore. She was told it could be secured in time for the next meeting.
“As long as Rock Bay is included in these options, my council has advised us and directed us that we can’t pay for Rock Bay, it’s far too expensive,” she told the meeting. “We need more information on bigger West Shore plants and more information about Clover and McLoughlin.”
Cost, especially the apportioning to municipalities, was equally a concern for Hamilton. Her city’s taxpayers are roughly 70 per cent on septic and 30 per cent on sewer and many wouldn’t look kindly on being billed for something they weren’t receiving service for.
“At least it’s keeping options that are viable on the table (and) what we heard from the public; it’s about cost control on things,” she said of the overall picture. “So if there are cheaper solutions to be had by building closer to outfalls, it makes sense that we’re going to actually see that. I’m hoping that we get real kinds of costings and not these planning estimate costings out of engineering that are sometimes up as high as 90 per cent contingency.”
Also Friday the committee voted postponing until March 9 to give a progress update to senior levels of government and finalizing, with CRD board approval, the option to purchase the Rock Bay lands subject to it being selected as the primary site.
Passed on the day were the dissolving of the Eastside select committee and the retaining of the Westside select committee for the completion of technical work around wet weather design flows; and a directive to staff relating to procurement and project management.
Washington legislator wants to see action
Last Friday’s meeting of the CRD’s core area wastewater treatment committee began with some subtle pressure from the region’s tourism sector.
The reminder that a Washington State legislator had proposed a bill that would see employees of state agencies not reimbursed for any travel to Victoria until the city has primary treatment in place drew a few snickers from the committee members.
Committee chair and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps quickly pointed out that the subject, brought to the group’s attention in a strongly worded letter from board chair Bill Lewis of Tourism Victoria in advance of the meeting, was a serious matter and understates the importance of coming to some sort of agreement on the day.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Jeff Morris, whose constituency includes the San Juan Islands, saw the House of Representatives vote 50-47 to use the measure to restrict travel to Victoria. The bill is now before the Washington Senate and if it passes there, would be in effect until Victoria has in place at least primary sewage treatment.