Esquimalt 'disgust' greets sewage treatment plan

By Erin Cardone
Victoria News
June 22, 2010 11:46 AM

Esquimalt residents and councillors were “blindsided” and “disgusted” by the turn of events in the region’s sewage saga.

The Capital Regional District’s sewage treatment manager Jack Hull was barraged by angry comments from Esquimalt’s mayor and councillors, as well as residents who showed up to council’s chambers Monday, as he presented the region’s updated sewage plan, which includes a 108-megalitre liquid waste treatment site at McLoughlin Point.

“I feel completely blindsided,” Coun. Alison Gaul said.

“We have been following this (plan) with interest and we’ve tried to make our voices heard in every way possible. (The residents) have never been consulted on this site through the CRD.”

Council was shocked to hear that the CRD planned to collect public input from Esquimalt residents about the sewage plan on July 6 and 8 – after the plan is sent to the provincial government for final approval.

“Your idea of community consultation is absolutely pathetic,” Coun. Don Linge said. “That’s so disrespectful of this council and our residents.”

Coun. Bruce McIldoon said he doesn’t believe in land-based sewage in the first place.

“I disagree with the project entirely. I feel like I’ve been in a vacuum – there’s been no information (coming through).”

Hull said liquid waste would be treated at the McLoughlin site and the remaining sludge pumped underground to Hartland landfill, where a biosolids facility could appear in the future. Storage tanks would be located at Haro Woods in east Saanich. A treatment facility on the West Shore, considered for the gravel pit in Colwood, has been eliminated from plans for now, citing high costs for pipelines.

Hull added the pricetag for the regional project – $867 million – could translate to a hike of $210-$500 on Esquimalt residents’ tax bills. Residents of other municipalities would see similar tax increases.

Mayor Barb Desjardins said the added tax burden for residents, loss of tax dollars to the municipality by handing the McLoughlin site over to CRD and damage to Esquimalt’s infrastructure during construction was an unacceptable combination of wrongs. She said the township would likely seek mitigation and compensation.

“You need to hear and understand why there’s so much anger here,” Desjardins said to Hull.

“We as a community came forward in good faith to offer solutions and this is not a solution. (The plan) needs to come back to this council again and again until all of the questions are answered.”