View Royal Mayor David Screech is concerned the next stage of public engagement on wastewater treatment won’t give residents the information they need.
“I have heard from members of the public very strongly that they want something tangible they can make comment on,” he said Tuesday at the Capital Regional District core area liquid waste management committee meeting, held at the Songhees First Nation Wellness Centre.
“They want options A through E that they can comment on, and I don’t know that this will do that. I’m sure it’ll put out there some wonderful ideas … but I don’t see how you necessarily make the leap that they’re applicable to what we’re doing here or whether we can afford them.”
Screech was responding to the announcement of an upcoming “Innovation Days” event at Royal Roads University, April 27 to 29. The public event will see industry representatives present their responses to the Request for Technical Information (RFTI) recently undertaken by the CRD.
The RFTI attracted 10 submissions from companies demonstrating possibilities for treating the region’s sewage. A CRD staff report stated the information received should prove useful to the Westside and Eastside committees working with technical experts on developing treatment options and cost evaluations.
The CRD made it clear that the RFTI was not a call for proposals to later be tendered, but was merely information-gathering about technologies that could be implemented. However, six responses came from system suppliers – one pilot project plant and five established ones. One of those was the company that recently built a wastewater treatment plant in Sechelt, while another proposed a system for biogas treatment to convert digester gas into vehicle fuel.
Christine Houghton of Aurora Innovations, the firm tasked with project communication and overseeing the public consultation process, said the public Royal Roads event will feature a series of presentations that will also be webcast online and later be available for downloading.
Another round of public consultation and various roundtables will follow Innovation Days, throughout May.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Screech didn’t sound convinced that the process would inform people enough about their options.
“So, the idea of this is that everybody who submitted something in the RFTI can just present their case?” he asked.
“Is the public going to have any way of gauging whether this solution is applicable for us? Or is it just sort of, ‘this is what potentially is possible out there, but we really have no idea whether it’s applicable to us or is affordable’?”
Houghton responded by saying Innovation Days is meant as another “prong” in the public engagement approach, where people are given as much information as possible, then encouraged to independently conduct their own research.
“It’s to give people a better understanding of what is possible out there,” she said.
For readers looking to get a head start and look over the information before the Innovation Days event, the RFTI submissions are contained within the April 8 meeting agenda package.