Victoria explores potential sites for sewage treatment

Victoria is hoping to identify potential sites for sewage treatment even as it develops plans on how to best consult residents on what type of system they want.

On Thursday, councillors endorsed a motion put forward by Coun. Ben Isitt to have staff report on options for wastewater treatment facilities in the city.

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Under Isitt’s motion, the site search will be based on criteria such as availability of land, opportunities for resource recovery, and consistency with zoning and the Official Community Plan.

The city also directed staff to work with Saanich, Oak Bay and the Capital Regional District to develop terms of reference for an east side subcommittee of the CRD’s core area liquid waste committee.

A similar subcommittee is developing a sewage strategy for the west side communities of Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood, Langford and the Songhees First Nation.

Councillors also gave their blessing to staff continuing to work with consultants to develop a public consultation plan to outline such issues as:

• How the existing system works and the benefits of sewage treatment.

• Wastewater treatment processes and technologies.

• Differences and considerations in deciding between centralized and distributed systems.

• Resource recovery.

• Plants in other communities.

Mayor Lisa Helps said it isn’t inconsistent to explore site selection while developing and conducting public consultation.

“I think we can do three things at once,” Helps said, adding that it’s important to get input from the public about their values.

Coun. Geoff Young said the best way of getting feedback is to present different options for the public to weigh. The number of viable site options is likely very small, he said.

Victoria has hired consultants and begun working with Saanich and Oak Bay staff to explore local or sub-regional treatment options since the collapse last summer of the CRD’s plan to locate a plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt.

The CRD is supposed to have a sewage treatment plant running by 2018 in order to meet federal and provincial government funding deadlines.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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