New board named to oversee sewage project

New sewage treatment board is expected to begin working this week

The Capital Regional District’s sewage treatment project is moving forward to a Sept. 30 funding deadline with a new board.

The new board, which was expected to begin working this week on a business justification for the project, based on its “environmental, social and financial benefits,” makes its first progress report to the CRD board next month.

The fact the new board is required to meet a minimum of once each quarter (three months) – the CRD sewage committee meets every other week – effectively eliminates much of the discussion between CRD politicians. Recommendations on the final project are expected by late September.

Established after the province became more directly involved in the estimated $1 billion project, the new board’s mandate is to see the project through to completion. Its goals and objectives appear similar to those pursued by the since-disbanded core area wastewater treatment commission (formerly Seaterra) – the board is responsible for siting, project management and expenditures, among other aspects.

But the province will watch this group’s actions more closely than the previous regime.

Similar to Seaterra, a project director will oversee the creation and implementation of a plan. In the interim, CRD general manager of parks and environmental services Larisa Hutcheson will serve in the role.

The CRD board must still give final approval to the business case before it’s submitted to the federal and B.C. governments, and will maintain responsibility for any changes that could affect the scope, schedule and budget for the project.

The new project board, to be chaired by lawyer and experienced large-project manager Jane Bird, includes past members of the since-disbanded Seaterra Commission, including former chair Brenda Eaton, an economics expert with experience on many large corporate boards; and former vice-chair, engineer Colin Smith.

Other board members include design, procurement and construction consultant Jim Burke; infrastructure development consultant Don Fairbairn, CRD board vice-chair and Southern Gulf Islands director Dave Howe, and CRD chief administrative officer Robert Lapham.

CRD board chair and Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins indicated in a news release she is positive about the makeup of the new board. “Their caliber of expertise and experience with large, complex infrastructure projects means the project is in very good hands and we thank them for taking on this important work for our region,” Desjardins said.