Emotions run high at sewage clarification meeting

Committee rejects costing request for solo plant at McLoughlin Point

When the core area liquid waste management committee looks at options for a site of the Capital Region’s sewage treatment plant next week, a lone plant at McLoughlin Point will not be among the choices on the table.

A motion from Victoria Coun. Geoff Young to consider an advanced wastewater plant at McLoughlin Point with a small plant on the West Shore was defeated in a tie 8-8 vote following an emotional debate around the board table Wednesday.

Young said he has “grave concerns” that the Rock Bay site will not receive the necessary zoning from Victoria council, and looking at a single plant at McLoughlin would give the board a better idea on costs in order to provide a more informed decision.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins pleaded with the board to not move forward with consideration of McLoughlin as the primary option.

“To have this come forward does not reflect the democratic decision making of council or respect the public who have come forward to speak against this,” she said.

Young said the Rock Bay site would also likely face vocal opposition, while Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen said getting more detailed costs on a lone plant at McLoughlin would allow for an “apples to apples comparison so we around this table can make an informed decision.”

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell said the debate left him feeling sick to his stomach and he was tempted to walk away from the table.

“We came here for clarification and now we’re radically changing [the options]. We need to back away from this.”

When the committee reconvenes on March 9 it will decide on three options being prepared by staff: a plant at Macaulay or McLoughlin, as well as a plant at Clover Point and another on the West Shore; a plant at Macaulay or McLoughlin, as well as plants at Clover Point and Rock Bay and another on the West Shore; or to optimize the option for a single plant at Rock Bay with a smaller plant on the West Shore.

The recommendation emerging from that meeting will be forwarded to the full CRD board of directors for debate that afternoon.

Alternate director Cynthia Day from Colwood was able to make one amendment to the recommendation for staff, directing that a West Shore plant be considered in combination with the other sites identified in the options.

View Royal Mayor David Screech said the debate around the table left him wanting to scream.

“It is ridiculous that we have politicians around this table limiting [information for] staff,” he said. “Politically driven motives are trying to design a sewage treatment system. It is absurd the level of political interference in making what should be a good engineering decision.”

dan.ebenal@blackpress.ca