It doesn’t take an expert to know that at certain times of the year, McNeill Bay emits an odour more commonly associated with a campground outhouse.
Or that drivers on Arbutus Road in Saanich sometimes have to roll the windows up, the same as one does when passing a ripe cow pasture in Pitt Meadows.
The “incidents,” which have long been an accepted part of life in Greater Victoria, happen when heavy rains infiltrate cracks in sewer pipes, or where storm surges overflow in a conjoined section with sewer.
Alas, “There is an end in sight,” said Oak Bay Mayor and CRD board director Kevin Murdoch. “The goal is to never have them.”
“It,” is famous in Uplands too, where one of Canada’s most wealthy neighbourhoods is also one of B.C.’s remaining neighbourhoods where sewage and stormwater outflows are still combined. It only takes a big rain, however, for sewage to overflow into Arbutus Cove, Cadboro Bay, Ten Mile Point (Telegraph Cove), Cattle Point, Willows Beach, Gonzales Bay, Ross Bay, Clover Point, Macaulay Point.
For Uplands, a three-phase, $23 million project to separate the sewer and stormwater starts in 2022 (pending the award of a grant application).
For the other hot spots, relief arrives in a few phases. The implementation of the new $775 million Core Area Wastewater Treatment system helps. But it’s still a matter of getting the waste to McLoughlin Point without it being interrupted.
Work on the CRD’s Trent Forcemain for Fairfield is scheduled to be completed this spring and will reduce wet weather overflows. The Trent Forcemain will increase the capacity of the system that collects wastewater from Saanich, Oak Bay, and Victoria, and directs it to the Clover Point Pump Station.
Work is also moving along on the $17.7-million Arbutus Attenuation Tank in Haro Woods across from Queen Alexandria Centre for Children’s Health. The tank should be done this year and is specifically designed to temporarily store wastewater flows during high-volume storm events to reduce the number of sewage outflows.
Greater Victoria is not alone in this endeavour, though it is among B.C.’s older cities and therefore in more of a hurry to replace old subground infrastructure. The province has otherwise mandated all sewer and stormwater separated by 2050. In Vancouver, millions of dollars has gone to instituting a “two-pipe” system in neighbourhoods like Uplands, such as Point Grey and Shaugnessy.
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