Public asked to pipe up on sewage options in Colwood

Consultation planned with West Shore residents, others in CRD

The Capital Regional District’s sewage treatment discussions now appear to be centred around the what, rather than the when.

A week after the CRD’s consultation team and technical oversight panel presented options for everything from one to seven sewage plants, public consultation is on the menu as work continues to hit a Jan. 27 deadline to decide which option to choose.

“We will have narrowed it down to the preferred site or sites; right now it is in a loose group and narrowing down has taken place in order to go out and get bids on construction on whatever is recommended,” Colwood mayor and CRD director Carol Hamilton said. “We need to identify what we are dealing with. I expect we will be in a position to identify that piece of land and details from public engagement.”

Hamilton, co-chair of Westside Solutions, said a combination of public feedback and presented information has her leaning towards a multi-plant option. However, she said many variables are yet to be determined. A major step is taking a closer look at potential costs for the various options, to be presented on Dec. 2.

“I really do think we need something beyond one central plant … what if the plant fails? We have had to shut our existing station down (in the past),” she said. “If there was a Westside plant and a downtown plant, one could offset the other if we had an extreme situation.”

Hamilton conceded single-plant options would come in at a lower up-front cost than a multi-site plan, but initial costs are not the only consideration.

Last week, numerous options were unveiled for achieving the provincial and federal government’s treatment mandates. Those included a one-plant option based in Victoria’s Rock Bay area; a two-plant option, with a centralized plant at Rock Bay and a tertiary treatment facility in Colwood; a four-plant, sub-regional option with facilities in Rock Bay, Esquimalt Nation, Colwood and East Saanich, and a seven-plant option that would include more localized facilities in Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Esquimalt, Rock Bay, the Saanich core and Saanich east, as well as an option for tertiary treatment.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, Westside committee co-chair, said a poll has been conducted with approximately 400 people. Ninety per cent said they had not been involved in the process before, but they were following it.

Once cost information is released, she said, public consultation will kick off in full force.

“The next step is to go out to high schools to try and reach out even further and certainly to go back to all those who have participated before,” Desjardins said. “There will be another round of public input between December and middle of January. We recognize that’s a bad time, but we have time frames that we have to meet.”

The CRD has until March 2016 to submit a detailed plan for wastewater treatment or they could lose the $83.4 million in funding from federal crown corporation PPP Canada.

The federal government has also committed $120 million from the Building Canada Fund and $50 million from the Canada Green Fund.

To provide public input, email wastewater@crd.bc.ca.

– with files from Kendra Wong

alim@goldstreamgazette.com