Sewage plant will restrict harbour’s future: GVHA

Harbour authority and union weigh in on sewage debate

A liquid-waste sewage treatment plant planned for McLoughlin Point will cut into Victoria’s already shrinking working harbour and discourage cruise ship tourists from visiting, says the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.

“It would be one thing if they were going to use it for something that was going to be water-related, but they’re not,” said Dermot Loughnane, acting chair of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, which owns and operates Ogden Point, Fisherman’s Wharf and Ship Point, among other ports.

“It’s amazing really how little (industrial land) there is left,” Loughnane said, adding that an industrial ship dock or light industrial site for marine manufacturing are two example alternatives the site could be used for.

The harbour authority is calling on the Capital Regional District to address its list of concerns related to harbour protection.

CRD board chair Geoff Young said he recognizes the dwindling number of waterside industrial properties, but the advantages of the chosen sewage site are stronger.

“At the same time people have to be aware that moving (sewage treatment) facilities far from the water is also expensive,” Young said, adding that advantages of McLoughlin Point include the need for treated effluent to flow downhill and out a nearby outfall.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees also recently weighed in on the sewage debate to encourage the CRD  to ensure the public control of sewage treatment.

The CRD made the right choice in listening to residents who overwhelmingly rejected privatization, said CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill in a release.

“They need to stay the course here and stay public,” he added.

The harbour authority also worries the facility will be unsightly and repel some of the almost 500,000 visitors who come to Victoria by cruise ship every year.

“You only have one chance to make a good impression,” Loughnane said. “If you don’t do that then they’re not going to come back. “I don’t think there’s much doubt that people come ashore and spend money.”

Aesthetics is also a CRD priority, Young noted.

“We’ll try to make it as attractive, or at least as inconspicuous as possible, given that it (will be) a big building,” Young said.

emccracken@vicnews.com