A political stalemate at the Capital Regional District over sewage treatment in the region will in the end benefit taxpayers, says Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins.
Desjardins co-chairs Westside Solutions, a group which has brought Esquimalt, Colwood, Langford View Royal and Songhees Nation together to find a solution to building a sewage treatment plant in the region.
Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay are moving to form a parallel committee on the eastside of Greater Victoria.
The committees are supported by the CRD and municipal staff to develop and evaluate sub-regional treatment options for their communities.
“This is a process of educating, and a process of engaging the public, and an understanding of what communities are looking and wanting,” Desjardins said.
“It may mean the need for plants on this side and plants on that side, but at the end of the day it will be a better process for everyone.”
The CRD is required by federal legislation to treat its sewage to a secondary or greater level by 2020, and the province has set a sewage treatment deadline of 2018. Some directors are pushing for an extension of the provincial deadline to 2020.
Last spring, the project to develop a regional wastewater treatment facility at McLoughlin Point came to a grinding halt after Esquimalt denied required rezoning and the province declined to intervene. Work was to begin by the end of July on the projected $788-million plant.
The province has committed $248 million, while the federal government has offered $253.4 million towards the final project cost contingent on meeting specific time lines. Additional costs are the CRD’s responsibility.
Westside Solutions held a series of public meetings over the last few weeks to get public input on the environmental, social and economic impact of the project. Similar meetings are planned by the Eastside working group.
“We’re not yet proposing anything. We’re providing overview information,” Desjardins said.
“We have to look at it from a greater perspective.”
Both Desjardins and Nils Jensen, Oak Bay mayor and CRD chair, hope by the end of the process there wouldn’t be two independent systems.
Visit the CRD website at crd.bc.ca/project/wastewater-planning for more details.