West Shore sewage plant likely off table until 2035

A West Shore sewage-treatment plant is likely off the table until 2035.

Colwood council voted unanimously against moving forward with an environmental impact assessment, since the plant won’t be needed for at least 20 years.

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“We expect there’s a very long time before there’s a need for expansion and that expansion may take place within [the planned facility at McLoughlin Point],” chief administrator Ian Howat told council.

“There’s also significant political risk in that what we do today may not be palatable for councils four, five or six terms from now.”

Technology might also change significantly over that time, he said.

Howat recommended revisiting the plan when the McLoughlin facility is within an estimated five years of the planned flow capacity.

In September, the Capital Regional District approved plans to build a single $765-million regional sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point by 2020, based on recommendations by an independent project board.

The plant will be built to a capacity of 108 megalitres per day.

The CRD set aside $2 million to study a plant proposed for Colwood and Langford, to accommodate future growth. However, no further funds or commitment to develop the plant was made.

“[It] left Colwood in the loop, certainly,” Mayor Carol Hamilton said.

“But it also put the caveat on there that it wouldn’t be looked at until the capacity of the main plant had been reached.”

It doesn’t make sense to do a study on a West Shore plant if it won’t be developed for decades anyway, she said.

“Why create a report that will just sit on a dusty shelf for 20 or 30 years?” Hamilton asked.

Colwood council voted to set the $2 million in a reserve fund, which will likely be held by the CRD.

Hamilton said she warned the project board that if it waits until the McLoughlin Point plant is at capacity, land currently available for a West Shore treatment plant might no longer be so.

“Overall, I don’t think this is a very forward plan, but this is the plan we have,” she said.

“The land we have available today that could be considered may well not be on the table in 20, 30 or 40 years from now.”

Colwood has spent $300,000 investigating the potential of a wastewater treatment facility in its municipality.

The project board will discuss Colwood’s decision at its next meeting in early December, CRD spokesman Andy Orr said.

Project board chairwoman Jane Bird did not return a request for comment.

asmart@timescolonist.com

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