Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell blasted the CRD board over the integrated resource management vote, but his Coun. Judy Brownoff defends it

Mayor trashes CRD decision on waste management

Coun. Judy Brownoff says late councillor Vic Derman would have supported CRD’s decision to cancel IRM

Mayor Richard Atwell did not mince words in his critique of the decision to cancel plans for a facility that would have streamlined various waste streams under the heading of integrated resource management (IRM).

“We invested years of our own time and our staff’s time to look at a better way of doing these things,” he said. “We were on the verge of doing it, and it is all blowing up today, and I am embarrassed to sit here and I can’t believe it is really happening this way. It is really quite shocking.”

Atwell made these comments Wednesday last week as the board of the Capital Regional District (CRD) voted to cancel the current procurement process for the facility, following a lengthy debate.

Specifically, Atwell argued that the decision denies the CRD the possibility to investigate technologies like the sludge-processing machine operating in Sedro Wooley, Wash. Developed for the Gates Foundation, the facility can handle different waste streams at different volumes, producing water and energy along the way, said Atwell.

Speaking Sunday, Atwell reiterated his critique. He also noted that the CRD must now find ways to dispose Class A biosolids, be it by shipping them elsewhere, or burning them.

The cancellation divided the Saanich delegation at the regional body, and sparked criticism from a local watch-group concerned about government efficiency.

“Vic Derman would have been bitterly disappointed in this betrayal by his fellow [councillors],” said James Anderson, a director with Amalgamation Yes, in a letter to the Saanich News.

Saanich Coun. Judy Brownoff defended the decision, and rejected charges she and others had insulted the legacy of late Saanich councillor Vic Derman, a vocal proponent of IRM.

Derman had argued that such a facility would help reduce the cost of the new regional sewage plant under construction by streamlining various waste streams with the help of technologies such as anaerobic digestion, gasification, or both.

While not part of the regional sewage plant, the facility would have processed some of the biosolids from the sewage plant, along with other types of waste such as solid municipal waste, organic waste and kitchen scraps.

But key decision makers including Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Brownoff, who chairs the CRD’s environmental services committee, questioned IRM after a workshop last month had raised several red flags.

Central to the decision of the CRD was a presentation from the consortium building the Hartland treatment facility part of the regional sewage project. Its “under-budget proposal” promised to produce more marketable dry biosolids free of charge.

Other identified concerns include the control – or lack, thereof – about source material. Helps said the district controls sewage sludge, kitchen scraps, but only 15 per cent of municipal solid waste. If the region is serious about reducing waste to net zero, then it does not make sense to build a facility that depends on waste to operate, she said.

A majority of CRD board members eventually agreed with them by cancelling the previous procurement process for an IRM facility, which Derman had previously estimated to cost $100 million.

Derman would have recognized the financial, environmental and technological risks of IRM, said Brownoff. “I believe that my former colleague [Derman] would have agreed with it,” she said of the cancellation.

Couns. Dean Murdock and Susan Brice joined Brownoff in favouring cancellation, while Atwell and Coun. Plant voted against it.

Brownoff said unanimous agreement is rare in any organization, and stressed that IRM itself is not dead – merely the current procurement process. As technology evolves, IRM may well be back on the table, said Brownoff.

“It is disingenuous to say that we are not looking,” she said.

While Brownoff confirmed these options among others, she said the process of finding a suitable use for these dried biosolids has just started. Putting together a request for proposal for the “beneficial reuse” of this dried material will take time, and the CRD will have a chance to review available options.

Just Posted

Cordova Bay group against plaza redevelopment

Cordova Bay shopping centre has three, four-storey buildings

Whisky society commits to charity donation in wake of whisky raids

Refund of Victoria Whiskey Festival tickets won’t impact charity beneficiaries

Victoria housing provider launches crisis prevention program to combat homelessness

Pacifica Housing aims to address challenges before tenants risk evictions

Victoria wins crucial WHL contest over Giants in Langley

Royals take over second in B.C. Division ahead of Vancouver

Needles far more prolific than public realizes, says local biohazard company

Leaving needles around ‘considered bad form among intravenous drug users’

WATCH: Giant waves smash Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point

Folks made their way to Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point Lighthouse on Thursday, Jan.… Continue reading

Touring art from war-torn Syria on display at Cedar Hill

Behind the Lines: Contemporary Syrian Art, Jan. 24 to Feb. 5 at Cedar Hill Arts Centre

WHL winning streak ends at four in Kelowna for Victoria

Royals lose 8-4 as Rockets explode offensively

Wind warning back in effect around Vancouver Island

80 km/h winds expected Saturday, Jan. 20, on east coast of Island, 100 km/h on west coast

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

UPDATE: BC Transit’s handyDart service strike delayed

LRB application by contractor means new strike notice must be issued by union

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Most Read