Eastside sewage group supports cost-sharing status quo

CRD’s wastewater committee to peruse the numbers today

Coun. Kevin Murdoch

Coun. Kevin Murdoch

In the wake of some big numbers last month, Capital Regional District staff offered the Eastside Wastewater Treatment and Resource Recovery Select Committee some alternate cost sharing formulas to those historically used in the region.

Generally infrastructure is paid for by the municipality that benefits most.

For example, said Coun. Kevin Murdoch, who attended the Jan. 6 Eastside meeting as Oak Bay alternate, the east-west connector services Oak Bay and at the time Oak Bay paid the bulk of the cost.

CALWMC members saw potential costs in that user-pay format – estimates outlining a number of scenarios as they’ve yet to decide on technology or siting – during its Dec. 16 meeting. They tasked staff with bringing forward some fleshed out numbers, and other options that for varying reasons, members of the Eastside committee weren’t sold on. The committee opted to recommend to the CALWMC that status quo was the way to go.

“It would have a significantly negative impact on Saanich, Oak Bay and Victoria,” Murdoch said. “I don’t think anybody claimed the current system is perfect, I just don’t think it’s bad enough … It’s reasonably fair; it’s served us well for 20 years. It’s not one of those things that’s the highest priority right now.”

To change the cost-sharing would also require a time-consuming bylaw alteration.

“For there to be a change to that bylaw would be a long time to get the details worked out,” he added, noting that it requires a two-thirds majority vote by participating municipalities to change a bylaw.

The committee didn’t agree unanimously to make the recommendation to retain the current cost-sharing format – three members opposed the motion.

Two members opposed receiving the report for information. The committee also referred the recommendation to maintain the current cost-sharing to their Westside counterparts who met Friday.

“The user-pay model makes sense to me, it makes sense intuitively, it makes sense pragmatically,” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, committee chair, said during the meeting. “I see it as extremely fair.”

Helps noted they’ll likely revisit the options during the CALWMC meeting scheduled for today (Jan. 13) at 9 a.m.