Public has its say on Colwood sewer costs

Less capacity, fair cost sharing among recommendations

Less capacity, more local treatment and more public input on cost sharing was the message from Colwood residents about proposed sewage treatment costs.

Colwood city staff heard from the public, who weighed in last week at a transportation and public infrastructure meeting held to discuss concerns over sewage costs.

The issue revolves around sewage treatment for the Capital Regional District. Municipalities are being asked to buy in for whatever capacity they will need over the next 20 years. For a fast growing community such as Colwood that means potentially paying large amounts of money now for capacity that may not be used for years to come.

Based on what was heard at the meeting, Coun. Judith Cullington said the infrastructure committee she chairs will recommend council buy in for less capacity than originally planned. The city can then build its own treatment facilities when needed in the future, with developers footing the bill.

“(We’ll) look at opportunities for smaller, localized treatment plants and kind of address new development as it comes on board,” said Cullington. “That’s certainly not a done decision, but that’s certainly what we heard from people.”

The second issue is how the city is going to pay for sewage capacity.

“It’s unfair to put it all on the backs of the existing sewer users because that could be horrendously expensive,” Cullington said. “Equally, it also seems unfair to put the treatment costs on to the backs of people who don’t get that service.”

The committee is also recommending council have ongoing consultation with the public going forward.

“This is something that affects every homeowner, or potentially affects every homeowner, so how do we make sure that people have an opportunity to say their piece.”

The decision about capacity needs to be made soon now that senior levels of government have committed funds, while the decision over how to allocate the costs is less urgent.

Colwood city council will address the issue at its next meeting on Monday, July 23 at 7 p.m.

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