As Greater Victoria starts a new decade, a few of the region’s long-term projects are set to come to an end. Here’s a look ahead at what’s in store for 2020 and the decade beyond.
Wastewater Treatment Project one year from completion
The year 2020 is slated to see the final touches on the region’s largest infrastructure project to date. Colin Plant,Capital Regional District (CRD) board chair, says in mid-2020, testing is expected to begin on the wastewater treatment project, and by Dec. 31, 2020 it’s expected to be fully online.
“I think if one was to look back in five years…at 2020 it will be, ‘that’s the year the sewage project was completed,’” Plant said. “And that sewage project has been in the works for decades.”
With a cost of $775 million – including a $10 million overdraw – the project has federal and provincial support amounting to $459 million. When it’s done, the region’s wastewater process will meet provincial guidelines by providing tertiary treatment for wastewater from core municipalities in the CRD including Esquimalt, Saanich, Oak Bay, View Royal, Victoria, Langford, Colwood and the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations.
The project’s three-part installation includes the McLoughlin Point wastewater treatment plant in Esquimalt, the residual solids treatment facility at the Hartland Landfill and the ‘conveyence system’ also known as the ‘pumps and pipes’ of the wastewater project responsible for carrying wastewater from across the region to the treatment plant and residual solids to Hartland Landfill’s residuals treatment facility.
Plant says another 2020 development might be the transformation of garbage into a regional resource. At the new treatment facility, developed at the Hartland Landfill, a series of digestion and drying processes will turn the area’s trash into dried Class A biosolids that could be sold to energy manufacturers. If a tentative deal with Fortis goes through, that trash could put millions of dollars into the region.
“This is natural gas already in the system – it has developed products otherwise going in the landfill. So [we’re] displacing greenhouse gas emissions by recovering this natural gas,” Plant said.
“If we land that deal, it could make the CRD millions of dollars. We’re still in negotiations with Fortis but we hope to be able to report out on that soon.”
The CRD has called 2019 a ‘peak year of construction’ for the wastewater treatment project – with 550 people working across 23 active construction sites – and predicts another busy year for 2020, with completion of construction and the entire wastewater treatment project going online by the end of the year.
McKenzie interchange headaches projected to end in 2020
Nearly four years after the final design was announced, the McKenzie interchange remains unfinished.
At a cost of $96 million, the project will put a new interchange on the Trans-Canada Highway at the intersection of Admirals Road and McKenzie Avenue, addressing the “number one bottleneck on Vancouver Island.”
|After a series of delays pushed the McKenzie Interchange years from its original completion date of fall 2018, the provincial government is projecting completion in summer 2020. (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)|
But commuters making their way through the ongoing construction zone – often heavily congested as drivers weave their way through lane changes and traffic cone cut offs – know the project remains unfinished.
Initially, the McKenzie interchange was to be completed in fall 2018 but was pushed to summer 2019. Then unforeseen weather events – specifically heavy snowfall – and the discovery of variable rock beneath the existing intersection, pushed that date further back.
But the traffic lights are now being removed and the provincial government’s current projections say the entire project, including a loop ramp, landscaping and transit facilities, is expected to be finished by summer 2020.
Greater Victoria transportation planning both a provincial and regional priority
In January 2019, the province announced the South Island Transportation Plan.
Spanning from Duncan to west Sooke, the B.C. government said it would conduct a regional study to create a plan for improving some of Greater Victoria’s biggest, busiest corridors.
In April, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced Urban Systems would have one year to administer the study – developing a “transportation snapshot” on current conditions, updating a Malahat corridor study from 2007 and identifying specific transportation investment opportunities.
Minister of Transportation Clare Travena said the study would lead to a “comprehensive regional plan.”
“I know people are frustrated with congestion and we want to find solutions that will get people moving,” she said.
The study would look for improvements to transit systems, cycling options, pedestrian routes, ferries, existing roads and the feasibility of a commuter rail along the E&N corridor.
With the province’s eye trained to the South Island, the CRD took a step back from transportation planning. But that’s something Plant says might change in the coming year.
The province, he believes, will have major provincial roadways at the core of its planning – leaving out some of the more localized problem areas like Shelbourne Street, McKenzie Avenue, Wilkinson or Interurban Road, to name a few.
“I think in 2020, transportation has to come back onto the table as a regional topic,” Plant says. “Because the province has signalled what they’re looking at is not, what we think, the only thing that should be looked at.”
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