Sewage plant plans moving too fast, says Esquimalt mayor

Esquimalt is worried plans to break ground on the new sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in February will overload their municipal staff.

Mayor Barb Desjardins is calling the timetable “incredibly aggressive” given the workload it puts on Esquimalt municipal staff.

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“We are really concerned with the capacity of our staff. We know they’re going 130 per cent now, so how we’re going to do that [process the treatment plant application] is still for staff and the project board to sit down and figure out,” Desjardins said.

Esquimalt councillors this week received a letter from sewage treatment project board chair Janet Bird outlining the next steps to getting Esquimalt’s approval of the sewage treatment plant so construction can start.

In her letter, Bird offered resources and consultants, and to pay legal fees to help Esquimalt process the application.

“The difficulty of that is having someone come in who doesn’t necessarily know the municipality. It’s going to take time for them to come up to speed. So how are we going to accommodate these things?” Desjardins said.

She said the municipality will “do its best” to work with the project board “but we also need to protect the municipality and make sure that we’re doing the appropriate process and the best process so it’s not a questionable process anywhere.”

Esquimalt councillors agreed to have staff review detailed plans for the project and advise what if any other approvals would be necessary to move to construction.

But until that is done they would not commit to any further proposed timelines for approval.

“We wanted to make sure we understood the project clearly first and then the process will fall out of that.”

Necessary steps toward processing the application could include:

• Determining whether it requires any zoning variances or Official Community Plan amendments.

• A review of the business case, community impact, and mitigation agreement.

• Processing of the development permit application and building permit approvals.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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