B.C. government red tape could stall sewage program

Province won't commit money until feds hand over money

  • Oct. 12, 2011 4:00 p.m.

The Capital Regional District may need an extension on building its sewage treatment plant, with the province yet to give a firm funding commitment.

In 2006, the province gave the region 10 years to establish secondary sewage treatment, ending the current practice of pumping liquid waste into the ocean. Then-premier Gordon Campbell said his government would fund one-third of the cost.

But the deal has yet to be put in writing.

“It’s going to be impossible to meet the current deadline,” said Denise Blackwell, a Langford councillor who chairs the CRD sewage treatment committee. “It’s a frustration for sure. We’ve had no indication of when they’ll come forward with the funding.”

Ida Chong, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, said the project proposal is working its way through regular government process and is currently being reviewed by the treasury board.

“This is a large project and unfortunately it does take this long to go through,” Chong said. “We need to know exactly how we are going to roll it out, and over how many fiscal years, before any funding announcement.”

Chong and Blackwell both stressed that the sewage project will still go ahead.

“If the CRD wants to extend the deadline, that’s something that can be considered by the minister of Environment,” Chong said.

Blackwell said it’s hard to know how a delay would impact the overall project cost, estimated at $782 million.

However, if the province delays too long, Blackwell said a federal grant secured to cover 25 per cent of the project will expire.

“Our biggest question right now is: when? When will we get the funding? When can we move forward?” Blackwell said.

 

Chong wouldn’t speculate on the answers: “Even I don’t know that.”