West Shore sewage plant costs sought

Kim Westad
Times Colonist
September 23, 2010

Costs for a single sewage treatment site somewhere on the West Shore are being gathered by the Capital Regional District and will likely be ready in two to four weeks, the sewage committee heard yesterday.

But staff warned that preliminary numbers show that tunnelling under the ocean to the West Shore could be prohibitively expensive, up to $100 million more than the $967 million now estimated.

“We are doing more work to understand the ocean floor and whether our current estimates are accurate,” said Kelly Daniels, the region’s chief administrative officer. “Other projects have seen their costs doubled because of tunnelling.”

The region has been mandated to provide secondary sewage treatment by 2016. Now, the sewage is pumped through six-millimetre screens before being discharged into the ocean.

The CRD board decided earlier this year to have one treatment site for liquids at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt, with the sludge left over after treatment dealt with at the Hartland landfill in Saanich. The decision was made largely so the region could meet funding deadlines.

However, staff were asked to continue to look for other suitable sites, particularly a site where both liquids and solids could be dealt with in one area. Experts have said from the start that having both treated at one site makes the most economic and environmental sense.

Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders said his municipality has sites available and there is full council support for a sewage treatment facility, as long as there is no odour and some amenities are provided.

The sewage committee has not decided what amenities will be provided to host municipalities.

Some on the board suggested that amenities, if any, should not be determined until a year after the facility is built so its impact is based on fact rather than perception.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, who is opposed to prime waterfront in Esquimalt being used for a sewage treatment site, also said it’s not fair to have wafted the idea of an amenity fund for the host municipalities and now suggest that there may not be a need for it at all, or that it should be determined a year later.

“It’s like putting a carrot in front of somebody and then taking it away,” Desjardins said.