CRD to consider axing Esquimalt site for biosolids plant

Mass rejection in public surveys forces CRD board to rethink Viewfield property

Capital Regional District directors could pull the plug on plans for an Esquimalt sewage sludge plant next Wednesday (July 3), thanks to overwhelming public opposition.

CRD directors are considering an interim report compiled from public surveys on the siting of its biosolids facility, part of the region’s $783 million secondary sewage treatment project.

Two locations have been proposed for the plant – Hartland landfill in Saanich or Viewfield Road in Esquimalt. The CRD paid $17 million for the Viewfield site in March. The report recommends that Viewfield no longer be considered.

“This is only an interim report. There are two recommendations that the board will review, but there is considerable opposition to Viewfield as a site,” said Andy Orr, CRD spokesman.

Nearly all respondents living in Esquimalt, Vic West and Burnside Gorge neighbourhoods opposed a biosolids plant at Viewfield Road, Orr said.

Directors also have the option of delaying a decision until a final report on the public consultation is compiled.

Orr said the CRD will likely have to sell the property if it’s not chosen for the sewage facility.

“I don’t think the CRD has another use for the property,” he said.

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard noted that using Hartland Landfill for a biosolids facility was in the overall sewage treatment plan approved by the province. “Hartland has always been plan A,” he said. “It’s the plan that’s approved.”

If and when the CRD moves on the process to build a biosolids site at Hartland Landfill, it would need to apply to Saanich for an amendment to the land use plan. Leonard, in an interview Friday, said it’s too early to say how he’d vote on that, or even how he’d vote on Wednesday’s CRD motion on the Viewfield site.

Vic West resident Justine Semmens said she hopes CRD directors put an end to what has been a bitter fight thus far.

“I’m curious to see what’s going to happen,” she said. Semmens worries the CRD may choose to locate the site in the Rock Bay area, something Orr said is not currently an option.

“Even though it’s not in my backyard, our group believes no neighbourhood should have to deal with this,” Semmens said. “Not in anyone’s neighbourhood.”

-with files from Edward Hill

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