Taking the next steps in sewage treatment

Political fear mongering is unfortunate and threatens to put the CRD at a disadvantage

The Capital Regional District’s “failed” sewage treatment plan continues to generate heat but not the kind that powers lights or warms homes.

It’s the heat of the political kind, turned up on Esquimalt’s Mayor and council, as well as Esquimalt residents, because of their refusal to allow a treatment plant to be built at McLoughlin Point.

Political fear mongering is unfortunate and threatens to put the CRD at a disadvantage, if its ultimate goal is to get parties back to the table working together cooperatively on other options. How can public “blame and finger pointing” possibly create positive feelings that would establish an environment that leads to constructive collaboration? We want proactive political leadership that encourages communities to work together on finding solutions.

As an Oak Bay councillor, I support sewage treatment and resource recapture.  But I voted against sending Esquimalt Mayor and council a letter to reconsider their decision, believing then as I do now, that Esquimalt residents have spoken through due process and that their voices and their autonomy should be respected.

As it turns out, it was at an August 13 Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee (CALWMC) meeting, that a CRD flyer that would be mailed directly to Esquimalt residents outlining the advantages of a cash offer, was also rejected by a majority of committee members representing seven municipalities.

It’s often said that information is power.  In the case of the CRD sewage issue and the Seaterra Plan, nothing could be truer.  Over the summer, I have tried to learn as much as possible and scanned websites and documents, met with our local MLA Andrew Weaver, with regional council colleagues, with representatives of the Sewage Treatment Action Group (STAG), and attended a CRD Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee (CALWMC) meeting.

As a North Saanich councillor between 2008 and 2011, I was also a member of the Saanich Peninsula Wastewater/Water Commission that oversees a sub-regional sewage treatment plant located in North Saanich above the Pat Bay Highway to the west. If you have never seen the plant from the highway, that’s the whole idea. It’s discreetly placed on property owned by the CRD, it’s secondary treatment, it serves three municipalities and it demonstrates “waste to energy” technology, with some of the sludge heating the Panorama Recreation Centre’s swimming pool.

I believe that Oak Bay needs to be actively consulting with its regional partners to explore alternatives and new sewage treatment technologies. It appears that other CRD communities believe so too, with mayors and councils already getting together to discuss options.

For example, sub-regional systems, such as those located in Sechelt, Sooke, on Salt Spring Island and on the Saanich Peninsula, have proven to be viable options to a big centralized single plant. What’s more, I understand that the Sechelt plant provides tertiary treatment for a community of about 17,000, is located on about a half acre, is buffered from residential neighbourhoods, was completed in three years and cost less that $30-million, much of which was covered by federal grants.

But will exploring new treatment options threaten existing Federal Government grant funding, as has been suggested a number of times? Apparently not.

In recent correspondence from the Federal minister responsible and presented at the August 13 CALWMC meeting, I learned that indications are the federal funding commitment for CRD sewage treatment remains intact.

Community partnerships not only require the commitment of informed elected representation but also need leadership that is open to new ideas and innovation.

There needs to be support for a process that refocuses the region on working cooperatively to find cost-effective sewage treatment that not only protects taxpayers but is also leading-edge.

My guess is that the current dialogue on sewage treatment may be confusing for many taxpayers. “Sorting through the clutter” is a challenge but the bottom line is that as a region, I hope we change course and take a direction that inspires new leadership that reinforces trust and goodwill at the CRD. Sewage treatment is a given, deadlines seem fixed and now it’s up to local community leaders to find a constructive way forward, together.

Cairine Green is in her first term as a member of Oak Bay Council.

 

 

Just Posted

VicPD warn public on fake firearms after responding to four gun calls in just five hours

Officers treat each firearm as a real weapon until they can determine it isn’t, say police

In a fight against cancer, Victoria man’s only stem cell match was his own donation

More mixed race and Asian stem cell donors needed, says Victoria family

Bridges for Women grad takes on new business idea

Victoria woman puts her lessons into action with Sweeping Beauty Concierge

Howard the Gnome finds a home at Galey Farms

Eight-metre gnome expected to greet visitors to Saanich farm this fall

Purple Day 2019: Victoria marks epilepsy awareness day

1 in 100 Canadians live with epilepsy, a neurological disorder with many symptoms

VIDEO: 13-year-old killed in B.C. crash that involved five kids

The children range in age from six to 17.

POLL: Do you still have a landline telephone?

With smart phones becoming an indispensable part of modern-day life, more and… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 26

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

MPs denounce leaked reports of Trudeau-JWR clash over Supreme Court pick

Opposition MPs called the leaks an act of desperation meant to smear Wilson-Raybould

Study says B.C.’s housing policies mean drug users can be targeted for eviction

The study involves 50 people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

VIDEO: Homicide team called in after three killed in Surrey car crash

Investigators ask public to come forward with information, dashcam video

Stranger climbs onto B.C. family’s second-floor balcony, lights fire in barbecue

Incident in Abbotsford terrifies family with two-year-old boy

UPDATED: Sailings resume after BC Ferries boat hits Langdale terminal

The Queen of Surrey is stuck on the dock, causing delays to Horseshoe Bay trips

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Most Read