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Esquimalt mulls sewage solutions

Township council has tough decisions to make about a wastewater treatment plant at McLoughlin Point.

After an unprecedented three days of public hearings this week, Esquimalt council has tough decisions to make about a wastewater treatment plant at McLoughlin Point.

On Monday and Tuesday, the Archie Browning Sports Centre played host to about 500 Esquimalt residents concerned about the final design of the facility, part of the Capital Region's $783-million secondary sewage treatment project. Around 80 people presented to council.

Mayor Barb Desjardins has made clear the Township's desire to harness the development as an economic generator and create a mixed-use facility at McLoughlin Point.

Esquimalt's creative project variances could include residential and commercial office space on top of the wastewater facility, as well as requiring the developer to build a dock at the site to barge construction supplies instead of trucking supplies through the township.

"I think council is going to make changes on Esquimalt's terms, not (CRD) terms," said Nick Kovacs, Esquimalt Residents Association co-chair, who was at Monday's hearing.

B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak said the province does have the authority to force through the zoning process if necessary.

"But it's our hope that won't become necessary," she said.

Any delay to the project would require consultation with the federal government, who have set a compliance deadline of 2020 for sewage treatment, Polak added.

"I think we always knew that it would be a challenging process, that it would involve a lot of differing opinions expressed in the various communities," she said. "But at the same time, we've also always supported the importance of taking care of this wastewater in an appropriate way that meets the guidelines."

Esquimalt council will consider the public input at a July 15 meeting before taking a summer recess.