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James Bay residents want their own amenities for sewage work disruptions

Marg Gardiner knew that her James Bay neighbourhood would take a big hit when it comes to the proposed wastewater treatment plant.

Marg Gardiner knew that her James Bay neighbourhood would take a big hit when it comes to construction for the proposed wastewater treatment plant in Esquimalt. But the anticipated disruptions to the neighbourhood were far worse than she imagined once she learned of all the details.

The plan calls for a conveyance pipe to run along Dallas Road, connecting the pump station at Clover Point to Ogden Point. In order to pump the raw sewage for treatment to the proposed plant at McLoughlin Point, an undersea conveyance pipe would also need to be drilled from just north of Camel Point to Esquimalt — a process that could take about a year.

The Capital Regional District (CRD) has offered the City of Victoria a number of public realm improvements for Clover Point, such as public washrooms, extending pedestrian and cycle paths, and a waterfront plaza complete with street furniture, bike racks and a bike kitchen with a repair station and water fountain. The CRD will also provide a one-time payment of $75,000 for maintenance of public washrooms, and is proposing to construct a cycle track over the conveyance pipe along Dallas Road.

Gardiner, president of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association, noted Esquimalt is getting $17 million worth of amenities for hosting the plant. The association, she said, doesn’t consider the site changes at Clover Point an amenity for the amount of headaches James Bay residents will have to put up with during the lengthy construction in an already congested area.

“We had no idea about the one year of drilling that’s just metres from people’s homes,” said Gardiner, noting the population of the community has increased by 700 people during the last five years, adding to the existing transportation problems.

“We would like to see several things but we have to be at the table first.”

The issue was recently brought up at the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee meeting, which was given an update on the project by Jane Bird, chair of the Core Area Wastewater Treatment Project Board.

In Victoria, the CRD has applied to rezone the Clover Point pump station so the facility can be expanded in order to handle the growing population and comply with federal and provincial regulations.

McLoughlin Point is also still going through the rezoning process and the CRD needs a development permit in order to proceed with the $765-million project. A public hearing on rezoning is slated for Feb. 20, with Esquimalt council expected to make a decision Feb. 27.

So far Bird is pleased with the staff collaboration in both communities and remains cautiously optimistic about the zoning bylaw in Esquimalt.

“As far as I can see, everything is going as we anticipated. There’s been some good back and forth around the design of the building,” said Bird, noting in Victoria, the board is focused on drilling for the undersea conveyance pipe.

“We’re very mindful that in addition to complying with the noise bylaw, we need to go above and beyond that and create a very close community engagement program to monitor that activity. We have been very clear that it will be a custom designed community engagement program for that community.”

In September, the CRD board voted to build a single 108 megalitre/day plant at McLoughlin Point for the tertiary treatment of wastewater.

Full on construction would commence once the land-use process and funding agreements have been completed. Geotechnical testing has already been done at McLoughlin.

In Esquimalt, up to 24 amenities have been identified thus far, including $7 million for waterfront parks, $5 million for community recreation buildings and spaces, and $5 million for emergency services and public safety facilities.

As for any amenities in James Bay, Bird said it’s more a question of how the board would go about amenities that make sense.

“We’ve worked extensively with the City of Victoria to think about amenities that make sense,” said Bird, noting the budget is not unlimited.

“I think the bundle of amenities makes sense and I think it’s reasonable.”