Our View: Victoria braces for the big flush

When the province and federal governments fork over $500 million, most cities would celebrate the economic benefits

When the province and federal governments fork over $500 million, most cities would celebrate the economic benefits from a fresh influx of capital.

For Greater Victoria, the announcement Monday that Ottawa and the province will fund a two-thirds share of building a $783-million regional sewage treatment system felt more like a day of reckoning.

The region’s sewer system users – Victoria, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, Saanich, View Royal, Colwood and Langford – now have to figure out how to extract its share of cash from residents and councils, both which are loathe to increase property taxes.

Raising $281 million for the construction phase isn’t pocket change. That’s $200 to $500 per household each year until the McLoughlin wastewater treatment plant, a biosolids treatment plant and improvements to sewage infrastructure are complete. Operating costs are estimated at $14 million per year after that.

For Victoria residents, it will be interesting to see what the final price tag is for the Blue Bridge. For regional rapid transit, the E&N line is suddenly looking a lot more attractive.

After six years and $18 million spent in sewer treatment planning and studies, the region knew this day would come, but decisions on how to divide costs among sewered municipalities and how to raise those funds in the first place have remained on the backburner as a political hot potato nobody.

As dismal as it is to – finally – start paying a fat new tax to wring clean the city’s effluent, a few positives can be flushed out, beyond not flushing waste directly into the ocean.

The region has the opportunity from the get-go to employ technologies that extract heat (and therefore energy) from sewage, much like has been done in a number of European cities for decades.

Maximizing resource recovery should be a requirement of the tendering process and not an add-on when the system is done. Recouping costs and easing the taxpayer burden should be priority No. 1.

Sewage treatment, too, is an opportunity to overhaul aging sewer lines in Victoria, Oak Bay and Saanich, some of which have been in service for more than 100 years. During heavy rains, these ancient pipes can overflow into stormwater lines (called inflow and infiltration) and flush into shallow coastal waters.

The region’s largest infrastructure project in its history has arrived. Start saving your pennies.

 

Just Posted

Co-creatorsAdrianna Hatton and Malcolm McKenzie stand next to the little free library revealed Sunday at 9710 First St. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Literary crowd helps opens little free library in Sidney

Located at 9710 First St., the book sharing box features original art and reclaimed wood

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

Between June 1 and 7, 168 net unconditional sales were made for properties in the VREB region. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria home sales slightly behind last June’s pace

Benchmark value of single-family home in Greater Victoria tops $1 million

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read