Guest opinion: Time to give McLoughlin another look

Nils Jensen, Mayor, District of Oak Bay, CRD Director and member of CALWMC

Now that the newly revealed sewage treatment options show costs to local taxpayers have almost doubled and in one case tripled, it’s time for the CRD to re-consider the lower-cost solution available at McLoughlin Point.

The federal and provincial government have legally mandated the CRD to provide sewage treatment for the seven core municipalities.

Federal and provincial funding grants of up to $500 million have tentatively been secured to subsidize the cost of the required sewage treatment infrastructure. The interim funding agreements currently in place are based on the assumption that a single treatment plant will be built.

The interim agreement for the federal monies expires March 31. By that time, unless a second extension is granted, CRD’s Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee (CALWMC) is required to have selected, acquired and appropriately zoned a location for sewage treatment.

In 2014 CALWMC proposed a large single plant at McLoughlin Point for all seven municipalities costing a total of $788 million.  The site is owned by the CRD and was zoned by Esquimalt for sewage treatment. However, because the proposed size of the single plant, bylaw variances were required before a building permit could be issued. Esquimalt council did not grant the variances.

After the 2014 elections a newly constituted CALWMC went back to the drawing board to look for alternate sites and less expensive treatment options.

Since then CALWMC has worked to come up with five new options.  Two options propose a single plant at Rock Bay. The other three options are two-, four- and seven-plant configurations. All proposals have at least one facility at Rock Bay. It is important to note that none of these newly proposed sites have been acquired by the CRD and none are currently zoned to permit sewage treatment. This is in direct contrast to the property at McLoughlin Point which is owned by the CRD and appropriately zoned.

On Dec. 9 the costs for each of the five new options were presented to CALWMC. Assuming federal and provincial grants are received, the cost to be borne solely by local tax payers will range between approximately $548 to $866 million depending which of the options is selected.

The McLoughlin proposal in 2014 would have cost local taxpayers approximately $288 million after accounting for federal and provincial support.

This dramatic rise in costs to local taxpayers ought to lead CALWMC to reconsider the less expensive McLoughlin option.

Re-examing the McLoughlin proposal is timely because two municipalities, Langford and Colwood have recently expressed interest in pursuing a separate stand-alone treatment system for their municipalities.

If Langford and Colwood break away it would mean the remaining five communities can collaborate on a smaller facility at McLoughlin Point – one that does not require variances and can be built in full compliance with the Esquimalt bylaw.

Because McLoughlin Point is currently owned by CRD it would be possible to meet the federal deadline that sewage treatment be operational by 2020.  All of the new options under consideration require land acquisition and rezoning applications which for multiple sites could take years.  None of them are likely to meet the 2020 deadline. This is a huge risk to the taxpaying citizens.

The prospect for a smaller plant at McLoughlin that meets the federal deadlines should lead the CALWMC to, at the very least, ask its independent Technical Oversight Panel to review the feasibility of using McLoughlin Point in light of the Langford/Colwood initiative and the dramatic rise in costs. This apolitical panel was established to provide the public with a layer of assurance that nothing has been missed or overlooked. They are perfectly placed to provide advice.

In 2014 the new mandate of the CALWMC was to be open to all ideas and options, to look at costs and to make decisions that are best for all CRD taxpayers. If after extensive review of the new options it turns out McLoughlin Point is in fact the best site for sewage treatment, politicians should be open-minded and embrace the findings.

Nils Jensen

Mayor, District of Oak Bay

CRD Director and member of CALWMC


Just Posted

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
University of Victoria researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada

Emergency health services treated a person after they were blocking traffic at the intersection of Fort and Douglas Streets on June 17. (Evert Lindquist/ News Staff)
Victoria intersection traffic returns to normal after protester blocked roadway

A person in a motorized wheelchair was blocking the intersection at Fort and Douglas Streets

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

With local high schoolers unable to have a traditional graduation ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions, Amica Douglas House celebrated the momentous occasion of eight of their dining room servers. (Courtesy Amica Douglas House)
8 Greater Victoria teens don fancy dresses, celebrate grad with seniors

With celebrations nixed, Amica Douglas House hosts event for its serving staff

Eric White’s roadside farm stand in Metchosin sits stocked with produce. (Photo courtesy of Eric White)
Fledgling Metchosin farmer frustrated by thefts from stand

Eric White said every dollar made at the roadside helps sustain his farm

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read