Greater Victoria sewage decisions delayed

Mass public turnout at meeting; most speakers opposed to plan

Capital Regional District directors delayed a critical vote on the secondary sewage treatment project Wednesday, after nearly 30 public speakers caused the item to run longer than allocated.

Directors were meant to vote on the creation of an oversight commission for the $783-million project, while Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins and Saanich Coun. Vic Derman put forward motions to pursue a low-risk designation under federal regulations.

The designation would extend the deadline for compliance from 2018 to 2040.

While most of the 28 public speakers were opposed to the project, some argued the current system of pumping screened raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca is nothing more than pollution.

“We now have the  money in place to build the plant and laws to mandate it,” said Christianne Wilhelmson, executive director of the Georgia Strait Alliance.

Public anxiety remains over the roughly $250 to $400 in taxes expected to be levied on Greater Victoria households to fund the project.

The B.C. and federal governments are funding two-thirds of the project, but any cost overruns will fall on CRD taxpayers.

The vote will likely be delayed to Nov. 28, said Denise Blackwell, committee chair.

dpalmer@vicnews.com