An early look at the design of a sewage-treatment plant in Esquimalt has some local politicians calling for more input to turn the potential eyesore into an architectural asset for Victoria Harbour.
The first artist renderings of the secondary-sewage-treatment facility at McLoughlin Point were unveiled in a recent Capital Regional District zoning-request document to Esquimalt council.
[See a CHART of annual household costs for sewage-treatment project]
The pictures show a series of drab grey rectangular concrete buildings, surrounded by a high concrete retaining wall, on one of the most visible properties in the gateway to Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
“It’s just an example of what they could look like, so you see the impact on the community as you’re driving by it, or sailing by it,” said CRD sewage committee chairwoman Denise Blackwell.
“You could put native art on the side of the buildings or articulate them differently, and I think if they were done in the colours of the environment, you might not see it at all.”
The CRD has said it will encourage innovation in designing the plant as part of its request for proposals to contractors later this year. “I worry this is pretty close to the end design,” said Saanich Coun. Vic Derman, a sewage committee member.
“One of the things I’ve said for a long time is, if you do build it there, you’ve got to make it look good.”
Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said she’s trying to keep an open mind prior to a Feb. 21 public open house on the sewage-plant rezoning, set for 4 p.m. at the Esquimalt Legion, 622 Admirals Rd.
“When I had a look at it and noted the amount of detail, and where they are going to put each plant, etc., I was a little bit shocked because where does that leave the real process that is the input from Esquimalt and Victoria?” asked Desjardins.
Desjardins said she realizes that an early artist rendering is common on projects of that size. But she said Esquimalt and Victoria want their design suggestions taken into account.
Input could address things such as building colour, landscaping and public space, the CRD has said.
Victoria mayor Dean Fortin said he hopes the design can be improved. “I think there’s an opportunity for something that’s exciting and architecturally interesting.”
The CRD’s rezoning pitch to Esquimalt also reveals that between 134 and 266 vehicles per day are expected in the neighbourhood during construction, sparking concerns about safety at nearby Macaulay Elementary School.
There should be crossing guards and alternate paths for children to walk to school, among other solutions, the document said.
There’s also a high risk of odour problems if the CRD only uses “standard practice” in building the plant and not “enhanced mitigation,” according to the report.
Desjardins said she’s concerned about the potential for odour — which could waft into James Bay and downtown Victoria — and whether the CRD has budgeted for enhanced measures. The CRD plans to build to the “highest standard to make sure there’s no odour,” said Blackwell.
In the end, the CRD’s Esquimalt rezoning request is only a formality. If the municipality rejects the project, the CRD can ask the B.C. government to intervene and force the rezoning.
Estimated annual cost per household for sewage-treatment project.
Source: Capital Regional District
Note: Costs could also vary depending on each municipality’s billing and taxation methods.
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