Oak Bay mayor questions timing of proposed European trip

‘Smellivision’ only technology missing to gather European information

  • Sep. 8, 2017 2:50 p.m.

Pending final approval, three board members, one staff member and one consultant of the CRD would visit sites in Germany, Spain, Belgium and France to learn more about the processing of biosolids, organics andmixed waste streams as part of plans to build a regional sewage treatment plant and bio-processing facility.

Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen says a planned trip to Europe is premature for the Capital Regional District.

The Capital Regional District’s integrated resource management advisory committee approved sending three CRD directors and two staffers to Europe to tour sewage treatment and biosolids processing facilities, as a way to learn more about integrated resource management strategies.

While I’ll keep an open mind, at this juncture I’m not inclined to support this,” Jensen said. “It’s, I think, premature to go looking at what we may want for Victoria. As a first step we need to decide what it is we want in integrated waste management.”

With today’s technology the only thing missing would be “smellivision.”

“There’s a much more cost effective way of gathering information when the time comes,” Jensen said.

First the CRD should decide on a direction then utilize staff and consultants to provide information, not relying on politicians who are “typically not experts in solid waste treatment,” he said. “Prior to making that decision, looking at the nuts and bolts of an operation is probably not that helpful.”

If it goes ahead, CRD board chair Barb Desjardins (Mayor of Esquimalt) , IRMAC chair Maja Tait (Mayor of Sooke) and ESC chair Carol Hamilton (Mayor of Colwood) would constitute the political component of the delegation. A CRD staff member and consultant would join them.

While costs are still to be determined, a tour summary presented to the committee Sept. 6 included stops in eight European cities in Germany, Belgium, Spain and France over a week in October. Apotential North American tour was also discussed.

Initial estimates of cost put the European leg of the tour at $8,500 per attendee. The tour will be paid for and shared equally out of existing budgets for the CRD’s environmental resource management sustainability reserve and the core area liquid waste management planning budget.

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell says residents should not have to pay calling it a “cash cow project benefiting the airline and hotel industries.”

The proposal is expected before the CRD environmental committee Wednesday (Sept. 13) morning with recommendations from the two subcommittees going to the CRD board that afternoon. Jensen is not on either committee, but serves as the Oak Bay representative on the board.

About the project: Current totals peg the cost of the complete project at $765-million to provide seven municipalities in Greater Victoria with the region’s first tertiary wastewater treatment system with completion scheduled for 2020. The proposed trip to Europe would cost an estimated $8,500 per person — or$42,500 in total. Plans also call for a visit of three sites in North America, with an estimated per-person cost of $4,000 — or $20,000 in total for a grand total of $62,500.

The project — especially the bio-processing facility — faces tight provincial deadlines and a staff report notes that the facility tour “effectively replaces” an internal pilot project “which would have taken substantially longer to complete.”

– with files from Wolfgang Depner



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