CRD approves 6-month budget for sewage project

Greater Victoria's sewage-treatment project will use $6 million over the next six months to take its first steps, establishing a program management office and appointing the commission that will oversee the project.

Included in the six-month budget - approved Wednesday at the Capital Regional District's core area liquid waste management committee meeting - is $4 million for consultant and advisory fees, a large chunk of which will go to Stantec Inc., which has a long-term contract with the CRD to provide management and technical services on the project.

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"It was a productive meeting and we're moving along," said committee chairwoman Denise Blackwell, a Langford councillor.

The project, estimated to cost $783 million, includes a wastewater-treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt, a biosolids facility and upgrades to the piping system. Currently, the region's sewage is piped into the Juan de Fuca Strait after passing through a screen.

Two-thirds of funding for the project, set to be completed in 2018, will come from the provincial and federal governments. Federal regulations require that a waste-management system such as the one approved by CRD be up and running by 2020.

A bylaw that would establish a seven-member commission to oversee the project - a condition of the funding - is also coming along, Blackwell said.

"We've got almost everything in the commission bylaw nailed down," she said.

Committee members couldn't agree on the bylaw's wording and decided to postpone voting on it until the next waste management meeting on Sept. 12.

Saanich Coun. Vic Derman said the wording is essential because it outlines the parameters for the commission, which he believes needs to search for innovative solutions and explore alternative waste management systems.

"If we're going to do this thing, we're doing it in the most intelligent way possible," he said.

The current project is a "19th-century solution to a 21st-century problem," he said, adding that he wants to see alternative proposals using cuttingedge technology.

"It's an inelegant solution because the design would be based on the existing system," he said, adding that he wants to encourage an "open competition" for ways to improve waste management. "I just don't think we've looked at what the possibilities are.

"Let's open the [request for proposal] process to ensure this commission is mandated - to allow and encourage other designs," Derman said.

The commission, which include experts from fields such as wastewater engineering and contract law, is expected to launch in November.

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