Oak Bay seeks environmental impact study for sewage plant

The resolution calls for the CRD and federal government to fund and perform the study prior to proceeding with the waste management project

A resolution calling for a full, comparative environmental impact study, passed at Tuesday night’s Oak Bay municipal council meeting was taken to the Wednesday CRD’s Liquid Waste Management Committee meeting. The resolution calls for the CRD and federal government to fund and perform the study prior to proceeding with the proposed $783-million waste management project planned for Greater Victoria.

Jack Hull, manager of integrated water services for the CRD, who was present at the meeting, acknowledged that no such study has been done to date. He maintained that the waste management plan was developed because “the province directed that it be done,” and that regardless of the outcome of any environmental study, the plan would proceed.

The directives to proceed with sewage treatment were deliberately written to disallow exemptions, Hull said. “(The provincial government) envisioned a long line of applications for waiving the directives.”

Past efforts to postpone the proposed treatment plan have given rise to concerns that any stalling tactics on the part of municipalities could potentially cause the provincial and federal governments to withdraw their portion of the funding for the project, an amount just over $500-million.

The CRD position did not sit well with council. Mayor Nils Jensen, who supported the motion, maintained that “this should not be a one size fits all solution.” He went on to say that all Oak Bay wants is an “informed, open and transparent debate,” that will allow for the best possible solution to be reached.

Councillor Michelle Kirby was equally passionate about her concerns with the proposed plan. “Just because the province has said to do it, we shouldn’t rush ahead if we don’t know if it will do more harm than good,” she said.

All of the other councillors spoke in support of the resolution before passing it unanimously.

The resolution will also be forwarded to the provincial and federal governments, as well as to the six other Greater Victoria municipalities impacted by the proposed sewage treatment plan.