Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell blasted the CRD board over the integrated resource management vote, but his Coun. Judy Brownoff defends it

Mayor trashes CRD decision on waste management

Coun. Judy Brownoff says late councillor Vic Derman would have supported CRD’s decision to cancel IRM

Mayor Richard Atwell did not mince words in his critique of the decision to cancel plans for a facility that would have streamlined various waste streams under the heading of integrated resource management (IRM).

“We invested years of our own time and our staff’s time to look at a better way of doing these things,” he said. “We were on the verge of doing it, and it is all blowing up today, and I am embarrassed to sit here and I can’t believe it is really happening this way. It is really quite shocking.”

Atwell made these comments Wednesday last week as the board of the Capital Regional District (CRD) voted to cancel the current procurement process for the facility, following a lengthy debate.

Specifically, Atwell argued that the decision denies the CRD the possibility to investigate technologies like the sludge-processing machine operating in Sedro Wooley, Wash. Developed for the Gates Foundation, the facility can handle different waste streams at different volumes, producing water and energy along the way, said Atwell.

Speaking Sunday, Atwell reiterated his critique. He also noted that the CRD must now find ways to dispose Class A biosolids, be it by shipping them elsewhere, or burning them.

The cancellation divided the Saanich delegation at the regional body, and sparked criticism from a local watch-group concerned about government efficiency.

“Vic Derman would have been bitterly disappointed in this betrayal by his fellow [councillors],” said James Anderson, a director with Amalgamation Yes, in a letter to the Saanich News.

Saanich Coun. Judy Brownoff defended the decision, and rejected charges she and others had insulted the legacy of late Saanich councillor Vic Derman, a vocal proponent of IRM.

Derman had argued that such a facility would help reduce the cost of the new regional sewage plant under construction by streamlining various waste streams with the help of technologies such as anaerobic digestion, gasification, or both.

While not part of the regional sewage plant, the facility would have processed some of the biosolids from the sewage plant, along with other types of waste such as solid municipal waste, organic waste and kitchen scraps.

But key decision makers including Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Brownoff, who chairs the CRD’s environmental services committee, questioned IRM after a workshop last month had raised several red flags.

Central to the decision of the CRD was a presentation from the consortium building the Hartland treatment facility part of the regional sewage project. Its “under-budget proposal” promised to produce more marketable dry biosolids free of charge.

Other identified concerns include the control – or lack, thereof – about source material. Helps said the district controls sewage sludge, kitchen scraps, but only 15 per cent of municipal solid waste. If the region is serious about reducing waste to net zero, then it does not make sense to build a facility that depends on waste to operate, she said.

A majority of CRD board members eventually agreed with them by cancelling the previous procurement process for an IRM facility, which Derman had previously estimated to cost $100 million.

Derman would have recognized the financial, environmental and technological risks of IRM, said Brownoff. “I believe that my former colleague [Derman] would have agreed with it,” she said of the cancellation.

Couns. Dean Murdock and Susan Brice joined Brownoff in favouring cancellation, while Atwell and Coun. Plant voted against it.

Brownoff said unanimous agreement is rare in any organization, and stressed that IRM itself is not dead – merely the current procurement process. As technology evolves, IRM may well be back on the table, said Brownoff.

“It is disingenuous to say that we are not looking,” she said.

While Brownoff confirmed these options among others, she said the process of finding a suitable use for these dried biosolids has just started. Putting together a request for proposal for the “beneficial reuse” of this dried material will take time, and the CRD will have a chance to review available options.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Cannabis consumption in the provincial capital

Victoria pot shops respond to the national legalization of marijuana

Police tell campers to leave Oak Bay park by 9 a.m.

Tent city leader expects confrontation, campers don’t plan to leave

UPDATED: Early morning crash on Sooke Road causes traffic delays

The road has now been cleared of two incidents from Thursday morning

HALLOWEEN RUNDOWN: Spooky season settles in Victoria

Here’s your list of creepy and spine-tingling events to take in during the month of October

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

Find your future at Black Press career fair in Victoria

More than 70 booths expected at Bay Street Armoury on Oct. 25

Chain reaction crash on Vancouver Island leads to boat hitting house

Alcohol and speed may have been a factor in Courtenay crash

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

Proportional representation grows government, B.C. study finds

Spending, deficits higher in countries where voting system used

Ucluelet fears orca protection could shut down fisheries

“I beg you to start a process to put a stick in the wheels and slow these people down.”

Black market will thrive until small pot growers and sellers included: advocates

Advocates say the black market will continue to thrive until small retail shops and craft growers are included in the regime.

Goodbye cable, hello Netflix: 1/3 of Canadians cut the cord

Just under half of households no longer have a landline phone

‘Some baloney’ in assertion Canada’s pension fund has highest ethical standards

The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is a dispassionate examination of political statements culminating in a ranking of accuracy on a scale of “no baloney” to “full of baloney”.

Most Read