Victoria keeping sewage options open

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is open to giving up government funding for a regional sewage treatment plan

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is open to giving up government funding for a regional sewage treatment plan if it means finding opportunities for cheaper technology and different sites.

The City of Victoria is working to make a sewage treatment plan work with the CRD, but it is still keeping its options open, said Helps.

The city is not only contributing to a region-wide solution, but it is also looking into a Victoria-only option.

“My preference is that we can get along with our neighbours and find a way to bring this project to completion in a collaborative and forward-looking way,” said Helps. “At the same time, I am committed to finding a solution that is cost-effective and long term. We’re keeping our options open.”

This may mean giving up the government funding.

“There are a lot of restrictions that come with certain pots of funding, and I would like to try to meet those, but at the same time, we’ve got to be realistic. Do we chase money, or do we create long-term, cost-effective solutions?

“We’ve got to truly be open to things that we might not have thought of before in terms of sites or conveyancing. If we can come up with cheaper technology, different sites, less conveyancing, the project itself may not cost that much.”

The CRD approved a timeline for sewage treatment that will not see it completed until 2023 or 2024, yet still follows the funding deadlines set by the provincial and federal governments.

“I think we can get things done before then, if only because we have to,” said Helps.

There may be opportunities to shorten the timeline, including in the procurement and construction processes, said CRD chair Nils Jensen.

“There’s never a guarantee when you have seven communities around the table trying to wrestle with a very complex issue and moving parts,” he said.