The Capital Regional District’s proposed sewage-treatment plan passed another milestone Thursday as Victoria councillors unanimously approved rezoning changes needed to expand the existing sewage pump station at Clover Point.
Victoria’s approval, after a public hearing where about a dozen residents spoke, comes on the heels of Esquimalt council’s decision Monday to green-light zoning changes at McLoughlin Point so a regional sewage treatment plant can be built there.
Mayor Lisa Helps told residents both the CRD and the city will do all they can to mitigate impacts during construction.
“I trust that the construction mitigation plans will be developed in concert with the people who are most affected, which are the residents of James Bay, Esquimalt and Fairfield,” Helps said.
Ironically, councillors heard from more James Bay residents concerned about the potential noise and odour impacts of the treatment plant a kilometre across the Outer Harbour in Esquimalt than it did from residents living near the Clover Point plant, which is in Fairfield.
Marg Gardiner, president of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association, said her community has not received the same consideration as Esquimalt, even though it will bear the brunt of construction noise from drilling for the sewage main pipe.
Any noise and odours emanating from the McLoughlin Point treatment plant once in operation will be carried directly into James Bay, she said.
Other James Bay residents speaking to councillors at Thursday’s public hearing also expressed concerns about potential noise and odours from the plant, and noise and traffic during construction.
Some suggested a water routing of the pipeline be used instead.
Laying the pipe across the seabed, instead of on land, would be far less time-consuming and disruptive, could potentially save millions in construction costs and would not affect sensitive areas such as the slumping Dallas Bluffs, some experts have said.
Project director Dave Clancy said the concept has been explored but there are several issues that make the seabed routing less attractive, including: the potential of disturbing contaminated seabed; the fact there’s a migratory bird habitat in the area; difficulty with maintenance of an undersea pipe, and cost and difficulty of repair if there were a break.
He said the undersea route is not believed to provide a substantial cost saving and would require a full environmental impact assessment taking up to 20 months, which would push completion of the project past the 2020 deadline.
Clancy told councillors the treatment plant is to be built to industry standards for operating in residential areas, and noise and odours should not be an issue.
He said the CRD intends to set up a community liaison committee to address issues that might arise during construction and operation of the facilities.
The city will receive a number of improvements for permitting the work, including construction of a three-metre-wide, off-road cycling path along Dallas Road from Clover Point to Ogden Point that will run atop a new sewer line.
The CRD will make a one-time contribution to cover yet-to-be-determined road improvements to improve pedestrian safety in James Bay along Dallas Road.
At Clover Point, a public plaza accessible to pedestrians and cyclists will replace the public parking lot. It will include washrooms, street furniture, a drinking fountain and bicycle racks.
The current pump station, built in 1975, is at capacity. The upgraded station will be linked to the new sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point.
Construction is expected to begin late this year and take 18 to 20 months to complete.