Westside sewage committee asks for extension to look at sites

The westside sewage committee wants more time to evaluate site options — and it’s banking on a centralized treatment option in the eastside to keep funding out of jeopardy.

The westside committee voted Tuesday to submit a full technical analysis of short-listed sites by the end of October, instead of September, as outlined in its PPP Canada $83-million funding agreement.

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The core area liquid waste management committee will consider the plan today.

Co-chairwoman of the westside Barb Desjardins said the extra time is about getting the right technical information, not delaying the process.

“The reality is that we’re doing a good job with the westside process. If we screw up now, we screw up and lose funding,” she said. “We have to get this right.”

The vote came after the westside committee agreed to consider another new site, next to Victoria General Hospital. The site, at 2 Hospital Way in View Royal, was put forward by Associated Building Credits. It is different from the nearby Watkiss Way site in Saanich rejected by the eastside committee.

Neither the new site, nor the Royal Colwood Golf Course, which was another late addition, have gone through the same public consultation and engineering assessments as the other sites being considered.

A technical oversight committee will begin reviewing proposed sites from both the eastside and westside committees soon. Desjardins said it would be unwise to exclude two good options.

“I think it would be foolish for us to move forward without proper technical oversight,” she said, adding that staff have also said they want more time.

View Royal Mayor David Screech voted against the Hospital Way site, on the basis that it might push the project back.

“Where do we draw the line?” Screech said. “Personally, if it’s going to affect the timeline, I don’t believe it should be considered.”

He also said it hadn’t been approved by View Royal council, which could create a situation similar to McLoughlin Point, which was rejected by Esquimalt residents after the Capital Regional District identified it as the best treatment site.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, who chairs both the eastside committee and the core area liquid waste management committee, said the eastside committee is ready to move forward with its options. Among them is a centralized treatment plant at Rock Bay, which could treat sewage for the entire region.

As long as technical experts can begin assessing the centralized option, the CRD shouldn’t be in contravention of its funding deadlines, she said, since it will still be moving forward with a treatment plan for the region.

During a meeting of the eastside committee Tuesday afternoon, Victoria Coun. Geoff Young suggested taking the centralized treatment option of Rock Bay off the table until the westside committee formally says it would consider it as an option.

Desjardins said she didn’t believe the westside committee had any objections to a centralized model. “What we heard at the westside committee today is it is essential for that to go forward to maintain funding, so we can continue the process of studying a distributed model.”

More than 600 residents participated in the westside survey of potential sites. The most popular sites included Esquimalt Nation land, a Langford site at Veteran’s Memorial Parkway and Meaford Avenue, the Colwood gravel pit, and West Shore Parks and Recreation’s Juan de Fuca playing field on the Island Highway.

asmart@timescolonist.com

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