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

Victoria woman to cycle Portugal as winner of BC Bike to Work Week

Malene Foyd logged 49km cycling to work with the Ministry of Environment; “I always bike to work, rain or shine.”

Victoria man in custody after downtown stabbing

Officers arrested suspect without incident, hours after afternoon stabbing

Cannabis plant sets sights on Saanich

A local entrepreneur who wants to open a plant processing cannabis says… Continue reading

New kitchen for Mustard Seed built by volunteers

Members of HeroWork spent nearly a month building a new processing kitchen in Esquimalt

Botched bank robbery, flying bullets, and terrified horse carriage staff

The voices of those caught up in Stephen Reid’s 1999 gunfire police chase through sleepy Victoria

VIDEO: Canadian toddler caught practising hockey skills in crib

Eli Graveline is getting praise from far and wide as the internet freaks out of cute throwback video

Late Bellingham homer sinks HarbourCats at home

Visiting Bells take two of three West Coast League games in Victoria, Cats off to Walla Walla

Music fills the air in Saanich parks this summer

Music in the Park returns to Saanich parks Tuesday nights over the summer

Serial killer Robert Pickton transferred to Quebec: victim’s family

Pickton was convicted in December 2007 of six counts of second degree murder

Man shot dead in Surrey ID’d as hockey coach and father of two

Murder of Paul Bennett – a respected Peace Arch Hospital worker and ‘champion of sport’ – ‘not random’

Canadian Syrian children’s choir not to attend festival over fears about U.S. travel

Many kids are recent immigrants from countries covered by Trump travel ban

Amalgamation fails in North Cowichan and Duncan

North Cowichan says yes, but Duncan says no

5 fun things to do this weekend in Greater Victoria

Victoria Ska and Reggae Fest, Ride Don’t Hide, Cordova Bay Day and more

Most Read