CRD staff’s proposal to soften community impact turned down
Oak Bay’s political leaders are not keen to help ease Esquimalt’s sewage treatment plant pain.
Spending millions of dollars towards an amenity fund “is irresponsible,” Coun. John Herbert told Oak Bay council this week.
Council voted unanimously to reject recommendations by Capital Regional District staff that included creation of a community amenity fund – equivalent to one per cent of a portion of the estimated $800 million cost of the sewage treatment system – to help soften the impact of sewage treatment facilities.
The staff report to the CRD’s sewage committee calls for creation of a regional fund to pay for community amenities as compensation to affected municipalities such as Esquimalt, home to the selected treatment plant site of McLoughlin Point. It also said affected municipalities should be able to decide where the money goes.
The sewage committee is currently gathering municipal input on the report.
Report author Tony Brcic, the CRD’s project manager for core area wastewater treatment, wrote that there are a few examples of other jurisdictions paying into amenity funds to mitigate the impact of treatment facilities. He did caution, however, that creation of such a fund could lead to financial expectations when future CRD projects are undertaken in future.
“Nearly everything fixed or renewed (by the CRD) could be considered a community benefit,” said Herbert, Oak Bay’s representative on the sewage committee.
He referred to the consultant’s report that prompted the CRD analysis, which suggested that an amenity fund could pay for parks, trails, sidewalks or public art.
Coun. Nils Jensen pointed out that the push for an amenity fund came from CRD staff and the sewage committee has not yet voted on the idea.
The report said the CRD would commit to including odour and noise control in the project design for the McLoughlin plant – similar criteria were followed when the Currie Road pump station was built in 1992 – and that it be suitably landscaped.
Brcic pointed out that although the above-ground McLoughlin plant will have a visual impact, it is not in a residential neighbourhood.
There was a public outcry when the Currie Road station was built in Oak Bay, he said, to such an extent that the regional district bought up neighbouring homes.
After the station was built, concerns abated and the CRD sold the homes with “no difficulty.”