Committee will consider sewage options for Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay

Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay are hoping to explore wastewater treatment options together, while the west-side communities’ own sub-regional committee moves ahead with its search for treatment options.

The Capital Regional District’s core area liquid waste management committee passed a motion Wednesday recommending the CRD board approve the formation of a committee to look at wastewater and resource recovery options for Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay.

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Like the parallel west-side committee, which has adopted the title Westside Solutions, it would develop and evaluate options for its communities, conduct costing exercises and work with other municipalities toward the best options.

Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen said a sub-regional committee has a number of advantages.

“It can take into account local conditions in the three communities. It’s smaller, perhaps quicker and more nimble, in terms of looking at all of the options,” Jensen said.

The formation of the sub-committee doesn’t necessarily mean a region-wide solution is out of the question, however.

“It may well be that we have a look at it, both west and east, and decide that a single solution is best. But it allows communities to explore a wide range of options,” he said.

Westside Solutions, which held its inaugural meeting in October, issued a call for technical solutions on Dec. 22. The request is an information-gathering step with no contractual obligations. The idea is for industry representatives to submit information about proven technologies that would be suitable for the area.

The closing date is Jan. 31.

“We’re getting a sense of what options are out there,” said co-chairwoman Barb Desjardins, who is mayor of Esquimalt.

Westside Solutions represents Colwood, Esquimalt, Langford, View Royal and the Songhees Nation.

The committee will present the information gathered as part of the second round of public engagement. A series of open houses is already underway.

Given that wastewater treatment has been a goal in the region for years, some of the responses so far are familiar but are being considered in new light, Desjardins said.

“We’re certainly getting a lot of information on technologies that, say, in the past have been treated perhaps by our CRD committee as too new,” she said, giving the gasification process as an example.

“We’re looking for ways for us to become leaders instead of followers.”

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