Letter: Sewage a runaway train

Letter to the Editor from the March 2 Saanich News

Victoria mayor and Chair of the CRD’s wastewater committee, Lisa Helps has her sights set on “bringing the sewage train into the station,” no matter what the cost.

But let’s look at the cost.

First, there is the cost to due public process. We were promised an opportunity for full public engagement and input was sought that would allow us – the paying public – to fairly and objectively review the whole sorry mess. Instead what we got was an opportunity to waste our time.

The committee has already identified the site (Rock Bay) and since none of the proposed solutions for this site are within CRD’s own budget ceiling of $750 million it has effectively limited even the choice of the “options” to just one, a single plant at Rock Bay. This is simply political theater and not the fair and open public process we were promised.

This is a high cost.

Second, there is the cost to our municipalities. Since this “train” took off under Ms. Help’s control the affected municipalities have become so fractured and disenchanted with the committee they have simply abandoned the process and those still remaining are fractured.

Ms. Helps has incorrectly stated that municipalities going it alone will automatically forfeit any financial help from the CRD. By taking such a position, Victoria will  gain a bigger share of public funds for at the expense of the other municipalities in the CRD. This is not how the CRD should work and furthermore it’s a clear conflict of interest. This could cost in the hundreds of millions in lost financial support for the other municipalities.

Third, there is the cost to the environment. Recent events in marine science research – conducted by Department of Oceans and Fisheries’ own researchers – have concluded that the current proposed, multi-billion dollar,  land-based sewage treatment approach will have a negligible benefit to the marine environment, but even more alarming is that ongoing studies indicate that sediments in the vicinity of Vancouver outfalls having secondary treatment have higher levels of PBDE’s (a chemical compound used as a flame retardant) than the naturally processed sediments off Victoria’s two outfalls. This suggests we will do more harm than good to the marine environment by excessive treating, since nutrients required by marine organisms to help break down these compounds would be removed from their environment.

Fourth there is the cost to our credibility and the planet. Canada has just made a world leading commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, yet consultants to the Capital Regional District have estimated construction of a treatment system will produce 15,516 tonnes of GHGs, with operation of the system producing 7,917 tonnes of GHGs annually. This is a huge, ongoing, and damaging cost to the environment and our credibility. We can’t suck and blow at the same time.

Finally, there is the real doozy, the out-of-pocket cost to design, buy the site from Victoria, then build, and operate the proposed plant. The CRD’s “cheapest” plan is over $1 billion – just to get started.  Realistically, these are just pie-in-the sky numbers that will just explode as this “train” speeds ahead since there is no actual hard-costed plan in place with this proposal. It is just a financial fantasy.

More realistic financial analysis done by experienced professionals in the field have put the true life-cycle costs of the project at over $5 billion.

These costs are just too high. It’s time to derail this runaway “train” before it demolishes the entire station.

Paul Scrimger



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lost dog reunited with family three months after going missing along Juan de Fuca trail

‘The poor thing was skin and bones,’ says one of the Sooke rescuers

Victoria family donates 878 falafel wraps to support Beirut blast victims

Wrap and Roll pulls in $20,500 during weekend fundraiser

Reimagined campaign continues to make Vancouver Island wishes come true

#UnWinedOutside allows participants to support Make-A-Wish Foundation, local businesses

Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

Police investigating string of break-ins at closed Saanich care home

Electronics, tools reported stolen from Mount Tolmie Hospital

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Nanaimo woman will buy ‘supersonic’ hair dryer after $500,000 lotto win

Debra Allen won $500,000 in July 28 Lotto Max draw

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

Cougar euthanized after attacking little dog in Qualicum area

Owner freed pet by whacking big cat, but dog didn’t survive the attack

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Most Read