Westside Select Committee co-chairs Barb Desjardins

Sites in Colwood, Langford lead potential sewage treatment options for west side

Westside Solutions reveals 20 possible wastewater treatment sites

Two sites in Langford, 12 in Colwood, one in View Royal and five in Esquimalt – all being considered as possible locations for a west side wastewater treatment solution.

The list, announced in a media conference Thursday at the Songhees Wellness Centre, includes well-used areas such as Colwood City Hall and West Shore Parks and Recreation. Others include such vacant properties as the Royal Bay development lands near the new high school and private land currently sitting empty at Veteran’s Memorial Parkway and Kelly Road in Langford.

With the Capital Regional District moving away from the previous “one site” idea for wastewater treatment, the Westside Solutions group, including Colwood, Langford, View Royal, Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations and Esquimalt, has split the concept further.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, co-chair of the Westside Select Committee, said a westside system of wastewater treatment could include anywhere from one to four of the locations under consideration, depending on the sites chosen and how the system is designed. Various facets of treatment could be spread between different locations, depending on how the public consultation plays out over the summer.

“The future of wastewater treatment affects every citizen throughout out region,” added committee co-chair and Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton. “In order to come to a successful solution, community members need to be invited into the conversation.”

There are “unique community values that need to be considered” when considering plans for treatment, she said, which is why the public consultation process is so important. So far, that process “has provided insight into what citizens value most about their communities, and want to protect when considering plans for wastewater treatment,” Hamilton said.

A public open house is planned for next Wednesday (June 24) at the Delta Ocean Pointe Hotel in Victoria to continue the dialogue and discuss the Westside and Eastside proposed locations and plans.

There is also an online tool being created, Desjardins said, “that will be available for community members to provide input on the proposed sites throughout the summer … and allow (them) to share their valuable local knowledge about what conditions would need to be met for a facility to be acceptable on a given site.”

That input, she said, will be a key consideration in determining which sites are put forward for further technical analysis.

“In my mind, the most important thing here is that we don’t do the missteps that we may have done in the past; that we ensure that the public is always part of the process,” Desjardins said.

She called the public engagement thus far in the process “extremely encouraging,” adding that it needs to continue.

“This is all about hearing from the public. At every one of these events, we want new people; we want those who have been following us; we need you to participate. You have the opportunity to voice your thoughts.”

But that doesn’t mean the discussion can take forever.

By late fall, Desjardins said, “we really need to have narrowed things down such that we’ve got both east and westside coming together and moving forward on a municipal process.”

Part of that timeline is dictated by the looming deadline related to federal funding for the project. But Desjardins said she’s not concerned with the money being available, as long as they keep the pedal down on developing the plan.

“We are well aware of the funding deadlines, and we’re working with both the federal and provincial people, keeping them aware of our process,” Desjardins said, adding that she’s confident that if they continue to work towards a plan, they will have one to present by March 2016 and the funding will still be available when they need it.

Hamilton said she’s not only unconcerned that the majority of the sites chosen at this phase of the project are within her municipality, she’s actually happy about it.

“Colwood stepped forward about three years ago saying we’d happily take a site,” she said. “It was going to be in conjunction with the Capital City Centre project. That has stopped, but it hasn’t stopped the optimism of Colwood,” in the possibility having a treatment site within its borders.

View the full list of proposed sites, including the analysis that went into choosing them, at westsidesolutions.ca.

mdavies@goldstreamgazette.com

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