March 22, 2015

Island sewage plant could miss federal treatment deadline
Victoria mayor, council keep options open on sewage plan
Video: Eastside Meeting 18 March (52 minutes)
Federal sewage funding an impossible dream (Langley)


Island sewage plant could miss federal treatment deadline

Journal of Commerce (Vancouver)
Mar 17, 2015

A new timeline approved by the Capital Regional District (CRD) directors shows Vancouver Island may blow past the project's federal sewage treatment deadline. Eight years ago, the government told the CRD that it had until 2020 to implement secondary wastewater treatment in the core area, as the dumping of raw sewage into the ocean was deemed unacceptable.

The new timeline states that it may take until 2023.

CRD chair Nils Jenson explained that after a plan to build the sewage facility in Esquimalt fell apart last year, two subcommittees, one east and one west, were formed to begin searching for other sites and technologies.

The west-side includes Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood, Langford and Songhees First Nation.

The east-side group is Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay.

The plan, said Jensen, is to make a decision on a site or sites and technology by June and then begin the tendering process within six months

"Now this means the completion might be pushed a little beyond what we would have liked," he said, adding that it is a worst case scenario.

"We are hoping to reduce the timeline by reducing the time for the tendering process and hopefully the construction process," he said.

The new schedule was also made to try and meet federal requirements to qualify for a one-year extension on an $83 million PPP Canada grant for the facility.

Without the extension, the grant agreement will expire at the end of March.

He said that he has had a number of meetings with the province indicating they will be flexible.

Jenson said that he has yet to hear the same sentiment at the federal level.

He said federal authorities still want to examine the proposed timelines before committing.

Due to a recent election, many of those now serving on committees overseeing the project are new.

While the complex project has a steep learning curve for new members, Jensen said there is an upside.

"I think first and foremost it's a very steep learning curve for anyone coming onto the committee," he said.

"I think also there's a new energy at the same time. Fresh eyes and fresh legs."

The much-delayed project nearly happened last year.

After extensive analysis, a preferred site at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt, B.C. was selected and the district had bids out for a facility.

But the township refused to make zoning changes, citing the environmental, economic and social feasibility of the proposed treatment plant.
Victoria mayor, council keep options open on sewage plan

Andrea Peacock
Victoria News
Mar 16, 2015 at 3:03 PM

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.
Video: Eastside Meeting 18 March


Federal sewage funding an impossible dream (Langley)

MARCH 20, 2015

Re: “Sewage treatment pushed back to 2023,” March 13.

The west-side and east-side committees are trying to come up with alternatives over the coming months to replace the stalled Capital Regional District sewage-treatment plan.

On the west side, the five-month public process that started in November 2014 will continue with roundtables up to April 2015. The west-side March 10 meeting indicates that the aim is now limited to providing a short-list of potential west-side treatment site locations without technology recommendations or cost assessments.

Discussion at the east-side committee meeting on March 4 indicated that the City of Victoria has identified a preliminary set of local treatment sites of varying sizes. Victoria is waiting for Oak Bay to consider four or five possible public park or golf-course treatment sites and for Saanich to re-examine sites such as university lands, Haro Woods and Gyro Park before comparisons of east-side treatment sites can begin. No schedule has been set for east-side public consultation or for information-gathering and technology assessment.

Mayor Lisa Helps of Victoria says that to preserve federal funding, treatment sites need to be identified by June 2015. An agreed short-list of treatment sites across the region by that date is an impossible dream.

Chaos on sewage treatment will continue until, unfortunately, the province decides to take over the whole miserable project.

David Langley