Victoria mayor says energy from sewage should be used for heating

Heat-recovery should be part of CRD's treatment plan, mayor says

By Bill Cleverley
Times Colonist
April 6, 2010

Dean Fortin has proposed using sewage as part of a plan to heat buildings
Photograph by: Staff, Times Colonist
The possibility of heating buildings in the north end of downtown should be included in the Capital Regional District's sewage treatment plans, says Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin.

It would be feasible to use energy recovered from treated wastewater to heat buildings in the north end of downtown, including the Rock Bay area, Gilbert Cote of the consulting engineering firm Stantec has told Victoria city councillors.

That would cost about $29 million, of which about $12 million is already included in sewage treatment project costs.

Victoria will have to fight to have the balance included as part of the overall sewage treatment project, said Fortin.

"Seventeen million dollars is a lot of money and if we don't make it as part of the sewage treatment plant that we have, then there is no guarantee that federal or provincial funding will be there," Fortin said.

Stantec assessed how a wastewater heat-recovery system would work in James Bay and downtown.

Cote said that running the infrastructure from a proposed treatment plant at McLoughlin Point into both James Bay and downtown would be too expensive.

It would cost more than $50 million -- not included in the estimated $967-million sewage treatment project cost -- to install a system of pipes and to increase the temperature of wastewater to fit older buildings' boiler systems, he said.

It would make more sense to focus on a smaller area, such as the north Douglas Street corridor, where new buildings use heating systems more compatible with the lower temperature generated by treated effluent, he said.

Victoria could require new developments in the area to make their heating systems compatible with the heat-recovery system, said CRD manager of environmental services Dwayne Kalynchuk.

Kalynchuk, who takes over as Victoria's director of engineering and public works next month, told councillors that a smaller energy system to service the needs of north downtown, including Rock Bay, would cost about $29 million.

Given that about $12 million is already in the sewage treatment project budget, "it really would be about a $17-million total cost we would be looking at," he said.

There might be access to federal or provincial funding to offset that cost, Kalynchuk said.

One of the keys would be ensuring there was a "captive market."

"What's critical in order to make a system like this work is [that there be] a zoning provision or something that will mandate people to hook up to the system," Kalynchuk said. "That's a bit of a catch-22, because you have to have a system in place before the builders are able to do that."

Fortin said that if the city is mandating people in a certain area to hook up to the heating system, it can't also ask developers to pay for construction of the new system.

"It's going to be really important for the success of the treatment plant and the energy centre to have that $17 million in place -- certainly for the success of development in the north end of downtown," Fortin said.