The 24 workers at Silver Streak Boats in Sooke have had enough of the sewage smell that permeates their shops and office from a municipal lift station.
The intensity of the stench varies with the direction and speed of the wind, but Silver Streak owner Andy Barry said there’s hardly a day that goes by when the smell isn’t noticeable at his West Coast Road business.
“The smell gets so bad in my shop sometimes that the guys are getting physically ill from the smell,” Barry said.
“And never mind when we get customers in here looking at the boats. I have to apologize for the smell sometimes. It’s really not good for business.”
Barry has been complaining about the smell for years and said with summer coming he’s had enough of the situation and wants the municipality to do something to correct the situation.
In an email to municipal staff, Barry pleaded for something to be done, characterizing the smell in the area as unbearable.
Municipal staff have responded to Barry’s concern and investigated the lift station, which is about 25 metres from Silver Streak Boats, but found nothing wrong.
The workers at the business that is adjacent to Barry’s shop, Powersoft Development Corporation, disagree.
Stan Schinners, one of those workers, explained that coming into work in the morning is always the same.
“It stinks, and it’s not the most enjoyable way to start your day,” said Schinners.
“We have this amazing ocean view and it would be so nice to be able to open our window and enjoy the ocean breeze. We can’t. It smells like a porta-potty out there.”
“The situation is even worse for Shelley Ek, whose home is located on Powliuk Cresent, just downwind on the prevailing breeze that moves over the lift station.
We smell it all the time. When I’m home there is a constant smell like an outhouse.”
“Lift stations will have a smell to them at times. They are moving a tremendous amount of sewage, after all,” said Rob Howat, director of development services for the District of Sooke.
“That smell can be affected by things like low cloud or fog that holds the odours in place longer, but I can guarantee that this system is working properly. If it wasn’t we’d have alarms at the monitoring station.”
Howat has asked Barry to check the drains in his shop to make certain there are no dry traps, a move that Barry has promised to make although he remains incredulous that this is the answer.
“This system is either not planned properly or it isn’t working properly. Whatever it is, it needs to be fixed,” Barry said.
It’s a sentiment shared by Chris Lang, who also works adjacent to the lift station.
“If this was happening in the middle of a larger city, you want to bet they’d be fixing the problem. It just seems that it’s not a priority for them.