Haro Woods treatment facility foes to stage protest

By Kim Westad
Times Colonist
March 27, 2010

Those who oppose using Saanich's Haro Woods for a sewage-treatment site
are taking to the street today.

One of the organizers of the protest, set for Frank Hobbs elementary
school at 11 a.m., said residents are so concerned about the land that
they're considering pooling their money and buying it if the Capital
Regional District decides not to use the site.

"We're talking about different scenarios," said Deborah Dickson, who has
spearheaded the "Save Haro Woods" movement.

Haro Woods, a wooded area at the corner of Finnerty and Arbutus roads, is
one of two sites -- along with McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt -- selected
by the CRD for sewage treatment to comply with a provincial government
mandate for secondary sewage treatment in the region by 2016. The region
bought 4.4 hectares of the wooded land for $6.5 million last year.

The property, largely filled with second-growth forest, is used by the
neighbourhood as a park even though it is zoned residential.

Dickson said hundreds of residents have attended earlier meetings to speak
out against the ecosystem being disturbed for an industrial treatment
plant many don't believe is necessary.

Although the CRD has bought the land at Haro Woods, it is still
considering moving the plant to adjacent Saanich-owned land that's already
been cleared.

The CRD plans to meet with residents and hold information workshops in
April to ask if they'd prefer that the treatment plant be moved to the
Saanich-owned land, and if so, what should be done with the other portion
of land. Neither is acceptable, says Dickson and other residents.

"You do not see the CRD trying to cut down Uplands Park to make a
sewage-treatment plant," said Lance Abercrombie, who lives near Haro Woods
with his family.

Some politicians on the sewage committee also question whether the Saanich
sewage-treatment site is needed. It was selected when the CRD believed it
could make money from resource recovery, selling the heat and water taken
from the treatment plant, perhaps to nearby UVic.

Since then, a report has found that wastewater recovery would generate
only minimal revenue.

"I'm a big advocate of resource recovery, but if the site isn't good for
that, then a plant there makes no sense," said Saanich councillor Vic