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B.C. government to pump $30M into sewage pipe for Comox Valley

Failure of septic systems in Royston and Union Bay could be devastating for the Baynes Sound shellfish industry.
The area of Baynes Sound on Vancouver Island. TIMES COLONIST

The B.C. government is providing $30 million for a new wastewater main pipe to connect Royston and Union Bay to the regional sewage treatment system.

The Comox Valley Regional District’s southern sewer extension is designed to provide wastewater services to small communities that now rely on on-site septic services, the province said in its Friday funding announcement.

Many of those septic systems are more than 25 years old. Their risk of failure is increasing and that could not only result in human health risks but could damage the environment in Baynes Sound, the largest shellfish-producing area in the province.

Royston’s population is about 1,500 and Union Bay has about 1,140 residents.

Anne Kang, minister of municipal affairs, said the project will also support the future development of the K’omoks First Nation, as the service extension will serve treaty settlement land south of Courtenay. New development is planned in that area by the nation, and should the treaty is ratified, more development and economic growth is anticipated.

K’omoks Chief Ken Price said the funding is an important component of the K’ómoks Treaty negotiation and planning process.

“The economic development of our treaty settlement lands and resulting benefits for our members hinges on removing key barriers to development, such as bringing water and sewer service to these proposed parcels,” he said.

Jesse Ketler, chairwoman of the regional district, said that the local sewage commission agreed to take wastewater from the smaller communities three years ago, allowing for regional wastewater treatment in the valley.

The water will be treated at the regional plant on Brent Road, she said.

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