The Capital Regional District avoided a potentially “disastrous” public consultation regarding the 1 to $1.3-billion sewage treatment plant, according to Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins.
Last week, the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee voted to postpone public consultation for the proposed sewage treatment plant options over concerns more information needed to be provided.
“The reality was, when we got down to it, there was a lot of confusion on the numbers and if we’re confused at the table, we can’t expect the public to be asked to weigh in on the information and be able to give us their clear thoughts,” Desjardins said, adding the cost allocation formula and allocation of grants were “problematic.”
“We need to do this right. We know we’re in a time crunch but this would have, in my mind, been a disastrous public consultation process because the public wouldn’t necessarily have been able to respond to what it is we’re looking for.”
Last month, the committee revealed five options for the plant, including a one-plant option in Rock Bay, Victoria; a two-plant option with a centralized plant at Rock Bay and a facility in Colwood; a four-plant sub-regional option with facilities in Rock Bay, Esquimalt Nation, Colwood and East Saanich; and a seven-plant option with facilities in Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Esquimalt, Rock Bay and Saanich core and east Saanich; and an option that is tertiary.
The cost per household depends on which option is selected. According to a report, the estimated cost per household in Victoria ranges from $509 to $608 annually, while the cost in Esquimalt ranges from $465 to $1,023 annually per household.
Victoria Mayor and chair of the committee Lisa Helps said when consultation commences, hopefully in mid-January, the committee will get a better idea of what is important to the public.
“We’re not asking the public to choose any options, we’re asking the public to give us more information at this point of the process to help us make decisions going forward,” she said. “It may come back that cost is the most important thing and so that would lead us down one path . . . An option six or an option seven could emerge that no one thought of. But through public input, we might come up with something even better and we’re certainly open to that.”
Directors instructed staff to come back with more information on topics such as costs, water flow, and solid waste recovery in the new year.
Helps said she’s not sure if the setback will delay the project, but noted if the committee wants to extend the timeline of the project, it must be approved by the CRD board.
The CRD has until March 2016 to submit a plan for the project in order to receive $253 million in federal funding.