More than 140 people filled the hall the Vic West Community Centre on Monday night for an unsanctioned forum and presentation on the region’s wastewater treatment solutions.
The evening was organized by alternative sewage lobbyists RITE Plan.
Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell attended and was the only member of the Capital Regional District’s Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee to speak as one of five guest panelists.
“We have to move along [in the face of the federal and provincial grant deadlines],” said Atwell, who’s made clear his desires for a more cost-effective solution.
“I don’t think we should ignore what’s at the table, I think the federal and provincial governments need to see all the proposals coming in, and see that we’re not solely focused on the deadlines.”
Atwell spoke in particular of the need for tertiary treatment to stem the flow of microplastics and microfibres, in addition to the federally mandated treatment of wastewater solids. He showed film footage of the ecosystem around the outfalls such as Clover Point and of microbeads ingested by plankton, which goes all the way up the food chain.
Atwell attacked the current CRD survey, saying “How can the public make an informed decision based on outfalls on a map with dollar values and nothing attached to it.
“We need another stage of public consultation, a more in-depth update and a chance for the public to talk.”
One of the key organizers for RITE Plan is Bryan Gilbert, a Victoria resident who lives on the border of Saanich along Cedar Hill Road.
The fact that people stood at the back of the hall and in the hallway on Monday night shocked Gilbert.
“There was no budget, and we didn’t do a great job of publicity and yet we had an astounding turnout,” Gilbert said. “It’s nice to see people care, they’re looking for a way to express their frustration with what they get from the CRD.”
The evening was hosted by CFAX’s Ian Jessop. Presenting with Atwell and Gilbert were Brian Grover, a retired civil engineer, John Farquharson, who’s worked with Victoria neighbourhood action plans, and retired civil engineer Oscar Regier, who has 40 years of experience in municipal infrastructure such as potable water, stormwater and wastewater conveyance and treatment.
“First of all, it’s not ‘the RITE Plan’ it’s ‘a RITE Plan’, because it just means we want a positive solution to this,” Gilbert said. “RITE Plan is about finding a responsible, cost-effective solution under $500 million. We believe a big amount of money can be saved, and we’re proposing many concepts.”
The Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee met Wednesday, at which time Atwell believed a discussion could take place between board members regarding construction mogul John Knappett’s recent deep-shaft tertiary plant for Clover Point and other points.