A delegation from the board in charge of the regional wastewater treatment project will appear before council Monday.
One likely subject of discussion will be the fate of up to 50 trees on Grange Road. Following protests from area residents, the Capital Regional District (CRD) announced last week that it had found a way to preserve trees.
Original plans for the construction of a pipeline carrying residual biosolids from the future wastewater treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt to Hartland Landfill in Saanich would have led to the loss of up to 50 trees including threatened Garry oaks on the east side of Grange Road.
These plans triggered opposition from area residents as well as local officials, fearing the loss of their neighbourhood’s character and local ecosystems. Officials in the charge have since revised plans for that section of the residual solids conveyance line running for almost 20 kilometres.
“To preserve trees we have shifted the alignment to the west side of the street, and rock will therefore need to be cleared by blasting or mechanical machinery,” said a release from the CRD last week. It also promised among other points that crews would work to minimize construction impacts and maintain two-way traffic wherever possible.
“[However], sections of Grange Road may need to be closed for portions of construction,” it reads.
Elizabeth Scott, deputy project director of the Wastewater Treatment Project, thanked the community for sharing their concerns and for their patience during construction.
The timing of the delegation’s appearance is also notable, as council prepares to ratify higher sewer rates.
Average homeowners will see their sewer rates rise $49 — or 10.52 per cent — in 2019 over 2018, rising from $466 to $514, according to a staff report.
Much of the increase covers Saanich’s regional contributions. Almost 76 per cent of the rate rise ($37 dollars) helps offset regional costs, “due primarily” to the increase in the debt portion of the regional wastewater treatment currently under construction. Increases in Saanich’s operating costs and infrastructure — each costing homeowners $6 — account for the remainder of the increase.
Last year’s increase was 10.7 per cent, the first (but not last) of such following the construction start of the regional wastewater treatment plant. When completed, the $765-million federal, provincial and CRD-funded sewage treatment plant will provide seven municipalities in Greater Victoria with the region’s first tertiary wastewater treatment system.
By way of background, former mayor Richard Atwell was among, if not, the harshest critic of the project because of its costs.