Jensen cools heels on proposal to revisit McLoughlin sewage plant

The public needs an opportunity to digest the idea of taking a second look at locating a sewage-treatment plant at Esquimalt’s McLoughlin Point before politicians make any decisions, says Oak Bay’s mayor.

Nils Jensen has withdrawn his motion that the Capital Regional District’s technical advisory panel be asked to examine the feasibility of locating a single regional sewage-treatment plant at McLoughlin Point, saying he would resubmit it for debate Feb. 10.

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“I think there is an interest in the community to look at this, and I think a discussion needs to be had amongst our residents,” Jensen told members of the CRD’s core area liquid waste management committee on Wednesday.

“And I think time is needed for that. I don’t think we need to rush into this.”

Committee members heard from several members of the public both for and against the idea.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said during the meeting that she has had indications from the federal government that there might be flexibility in the 2020 deadline to have sewage treatment in place, if the project has progressed to the point where there are shovels in the ground.

But Jensen — and the group previously selected to build a regional plant at McLoughlin — said the 2020 deadline is still doable if the plant was built at the Esquimalt site, which the CRD owns.

The CRD abandoned plans to build at McLoughlin after Esquimalt refused to grant needed variances to zoning and the province refused to override that decision. Overall costs of that plan were estimated at $788 million, including a tendered bid to build at McLoughlin for $179 million.

The CRD is now looking at options ranging from a single plant to seven plants. The cheapest option, a single plant at Rock Bay, is estimated to cost $1.031 billion. Cost for a treatment system using seven plants is an estimated $1.348 billion.

Harbour Resource Partners, the preferred proponent to build the sewage-treatment plant at McLoughlin, has written the CRD to say it could build a treatment plant that meets all the requirements of the existing zoning at McLoughlin — thereby saving the CRD potentially hundreds of millions of dollars — and still meet the 2020 deadline.

In a Dec. 29 letter to CRD chairwoman Barb Desjardins, the Esquimalt mayor, Ernie Maschner says the Harbour Resource Partners proposal, including a new outfall and a bored pipe across the outer harbour, was under the CRD affordability ceiling of $230 million.

That compares to a single plant at Rock Bay, which is estimated to cost $692 million, including:

• $393 million for liquid treatment

• $32.5 million for a new outfall at Clover Point

• $83.9 million for pumping station and conveyance to Clover Point

• $51 million for pumping station and force main to Rock Bay

• $65 million for Macauley Point pumping station and forcemain to Rock Bay

• $67.2 million for land

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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