Time constraints and lengthy discussions around bringing McLoughlin Point back into the conversation led the Capital Region sewage committee to push a decision on treatment plant Option 2 to today.
Wednesday’s meeting in Victoria saw committee members hear a motion from Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen to ask for a technical review of the previously rejected Esquimalt site, as a way to potentially reduce the costs involved with the project.
“Unless we look at all the available options, we have breached our fiduciary duty and have not done our due diligence,” Jensen said in explaining his motion. “This is a respectful approach that says we want to keep this affordable for all communities.”
An amendment to the motion, put forward by Saanich Coun. Colin Plant, was later approved by a strong majority. It expanded the idea to explore the feasibility of incorporating sites at either McLoughlin or Macaulay Point, as well as Clover Point and a possible site to service the western communities.
Wednesday’s agenda called for discussion around a staff recommendation to move forward with an option including a main secondary treatment plant at Rock Bay, and a smaller plant in Colwood at Island Highway and Ocean Boulevard designed to do tertiary treatment and resource recovery. An alternative recommendation to the above adds a provision that would allow the committee to essentially use Rock Bay as a placeholder site to allow the process to move forward and meet the federal funding deadline of March 31.
Speaking earlier to Jensen’s proposal, Colwood Coun. Cynthia Day said, “no sites should be off the table.”
“We’re talking about costs on the most vague of assumptions,” she said of the recommended option, adding that Colwood residents, only 30 per cent of which are on sewer, are looking at serious financial hardship.
Committee member and Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, who called Jensen’s idea “backward-thinking,” supported the public consultation and technical process that has taken place to date. She worried adding what was essentially another option at this point is “confusing to the public and confusing to the funders.”
Committee chair, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, while saying she is willing to entertain new ideas, cautioned the committee that she and CRD board chair Desjardins head to Ottawa in three weeks to give a progress report to the funders.
Friday’s meeting is open to the public and starts at 1 p.m. at CRD headquarters, 6th floor, 625 Fisgard St.