Making the best of a bad situation

Oak Bay, Victoria and Saanich work to find a solution to sewage treatment

It’s likely not the ideal solution, but the three eastern CRD municipalities are on their way to making the best of a bad situation.

The municipalities of Oak Bay, Victoria and Saanich have initiated discussions to identify wastewater treatment options for their communities as part of a comprehensive regional solution. The Capital Regional District is expected to give formal approval this week for a Wastewater and Resource Recovery Select Committee for the three communities.

In a perfect world all the Greater Victoria municipalities would work together to find a solution to the sewage treatment issue. But the intransigence shown by Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins make the prospects of finding a perfect solution seem all but impossible.

And the local civic officials simply don’t have the luxury of waiting for a dream scenario to materialize for the region or other municipalities to have a change of heart.

The CRD is required by federal legislation to treat its sewage to a secondary or greater level by 2020, and the province has set a sewage treatment deadline of 2018. Last spring the project to develop a regional wastewater treatment facility at McLoughlin Point came to a grinding halt after Esquimalt denied required rezoning. Work was meant to begin by the end of July 2014 on the projected $788-million plant.

Meetings will be held in the three communities as the committee works to identify a location for the facility and hammer down the costs. There will be some help on that front as the province has committed $248 million, while the federal government has offered $253.4 million towards the final project cost contingent on meeting specific timelines. That money will now likely have to be split with the solution identified by the western communities of Colwood, Esquimalt, Langford, View Royal, and the Songhees Nation.

No matter what the final break down of costs works out to be, what is clear is that time is of the essence in order to prevent $500 million from being flushed down the drain.