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Standing-room only crowd in Victoria hears about Clover Point sewage expansion plan

A public meeting outlining expansion details for the Clover Point pump station had to be an exercise in frustration for anyone hoping to voice general concerns about the Capital Regional District's sewage treatment project.

Attendees at the standing-room only gathering held Tuesday evening at the Fairfield Community Association building were told early on that only the rezoning application for the pump station project would be addressed.

Albert Sweetnam, program director for Seaterra, said later he recognized a number of people from Esquimalt in the crowd, some of whom tried to steer the direction of the discussion to the overall project.

"What I keep saying is the team and myself are not there to debate the merits of the program, we're there to implement the program," Sweetnam said. "The debate is over."

It was the third neighbourhood meeting Seaterra has held on the Clover Point subject, but definitely the largest. From a show of hands, the majority in the crowd were from the immediate area.

They tended to focus questions on elements of the expansion project that would affect the neighbourhood, such as the routing of pipes carrying sewage toward McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt, and the disposition of large trees further along Dallas Road.

A full public information meeting about the Seaterra project in general will be held Jan. 25 in the gymnasium of Sir James Douglas elementary. Not everyone at Monday's event was satisfied with that upcoming opportunity, however.

"That meeting should have been held first, so people would know the context of the (Clover Point) plan," said Elizabeth Woodworth, a member of the Association for Environmentally Sustainable Sewage Treatment (ARESST). "It's putting the cart before the horse."

Earlier this month, Seaterra released the request for qualifications for the Clover Point pump station. The plan is to upgrade and expand the station underground to increase its capacity and direct wastewater through a conveyance pipe – termed a forcemain – underneath and alongside Dallas Road to Ogden Point, then across Victoria Harbour to the treatment plant at McLoughlin Point.

The request for proposals for the pipe project is scheduled for early 2014 and the two jobs would be worked on concurrently, Sweetnam said.

ddescoteau@vicnews.com

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