The push for wastewater treatment surges on with a federally legislated deadline looming in the not so distant future.
With the process moving forward, a late submission has been floated for consideration as a potential treatment site. At the Tuesday meeting of the Westside Wastewater Treatment and Resource Recovery Select Committee, members voted to send the roughly three-hectare, privately owned property at 2 Hospital Way forward for technical analysis.
“We didn’t feel like it was a big stretch,” said committee co-chair and Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton about adding this new property. “It would certainly fit the bill.”
Among the potential benefits of the new site, put forward by Associated Building Credits Ltd., is that nearby facilities such as Victoria General Hospital could use the treatment site as an energy source, she said. “They would be well positioned to utilize resources from a heat and water perspective.”
Last week, for the second time in a month, Saanich council rejected a proposal to include a privately owned property on nearby Watkiss Way on the list of potential sites for the CRD’s Eastside Select Committee to consider. The proposal had been brought back to council by Mayor Richard Atwell after the public showed a high level of interest in weighing in on the site.
In June, the Westside Select Committee announced a list of 20 possible sites that were deemed technically feasible for wastewater treatment on the West Shore. This list originally included 12 locations in Colwood, two in Langford, one in View Royal, and five in Esquimalt.
The Royal Colwood Golf Club also offered a three-acre parcel of land for consideration after the original list was made public.
The 22 properties, including the VGH-area site, will undergo a detailed technical analysis that will help the committee narrow down the list of potential sites and the technologies best suited to each. Hamilton hopes the process will be completed by the end of the year. “It’s an aggressive timeline,” she said. “There’s a commitment.”
The push to find a new treatment site comes after Esquimalt council voted in 2014, after a major public outcry, against rezoning land at McLoughlin Point for the main treatment facility. That rejection put roughly $253 million of federal government funding in jeopardy for the proposed $788-million wastewater treatment project.
Those funds, however, are not a lump sum coming from one budget. “It’s not something that was well understood at the board level,” Hamilton said.
The agreement for the different portions of that funding were not just contingent on meeting timelines, but dealt with such aspects as the technologies used in the project, she said. “They’ve agreed to hold the funding until we bring them the plan.”
Hamilton said the federal government has agreed to extend the project completion deadline from 2020 to 2023. But many still fear that timeline may be too tight to allow for due process (see adjacent story), a situation that was blamed for the failure of the McLoughlin site.
“We’re working diligently,” said Hamilton. “Everything that has been put forward has been acknowledged by council.”