Sewage project pause sought by Greater Victoria citizens group

Greater Victoria’s commission of sewage experts got an earful from angry taxpayers who called Thursday for the megaproject to be paused and independently reviewed.

Representatives of the Sewage Treatment Action Group, a community group of concerned citizens, called on the commission to halt work on the sewage project and launch an arm’s-length examination into the $783-million project’s full life cycle costs over 50 years.

article continues below

The group also sent a letter to B.C.’s auditor general, asking the office to audit the project to see if it’s in the best interest of taxpayers.

The current Capital Regional District sewage plan calls for a treatment facility at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt as well as a biosolids facility at either Hartland landfill in Saanich or Viewfield Road in Esquimalt. It’s in the first stages of tendering, with an estimated completion date of 2018.

Esquimalt residents have strongly opposed the Viewfield location for its proximity to local houses and schools, but the commission has said land acquisition and plant siting is not within its mandate to change.

The action group was one of several presenters to the seven-person commission of technical experts that controls day-to-day decision-making on the treatment project.

Some tried to portray the commission’s request for additional information from staff on sewage flows and costs as a lack of confidence in the project’s direction; commission members did not respond to that suggestion on Thursday.

Esquimalt resident Kim Bellefontaine urged the commission to continue to investigate options to improve the project, and outlined a series of questions on regulatory requirements, questionable economies of scale, a restricted vision for the project’s infrastructure and a lack of exploration of alternative sites such as agricultural land on Burnside Road West. The CRD board voted against looking at the Burnside property this month.

Bellefontaine said her concerns have previously “fallen on deaf ears” among regional politicians who sit on the CRD’s sewage committee. But the commission of experts took notes, made eye contact and appeared interested, she said.

“It was a refreshing change.”

Commission chairwoman Brenda Eaton, a former senior bureaucrat in the B.C. government, thanked the approximately 30 people at the meeting.

“We’re glad to see so much interest from the general public,” she said.

Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist


NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Times Colonist welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus

Find out what's happening in your community.

Most Popular