WATCH: Esquimalt councillors say McLoughlin Point sewage plant plan stinks and they may try to block it. Tess van Straaten reports.
It sounds too good to be true.
“It’s a better plan for less money,” says Victoria mayor Lisa Helps. “I think it turned out better than anyone expected.”
But the proposed sewage plant for McLoughlin Point isn’t sitting well with Esquimalt councillors.
“I’m really angry!” councillor Susan Low says. “I seriously thought that when we did the east side west side process of looking at different sites we were really getting somewhere.”
“This is taking a report that’s an old idea, an old recommendation, putting lipstick on it just like a pig and calling it something new,” adds councillor Tim Morrison.
The provincially-appointed panel that came up with the recommendation says the new plan is different.
It’s a smaller footprint and now includes tertiary treatment, which is better for the environment.
At $765 million, it also costs far less than the other options and less than the initial $783 million price tag.
But after more than two years and tens of millions of dollars wasted, it’s back at the controversial site Esquimalt council blocked in 2014.
A letter from Esquimalt to the CRD in April of this year takes it a step further — saying the township is against hosting a centralized treatment facility
“They’ve broken all the rules, they’ve completely unleveled the playing field and once again, Esquimalt ends up on the bottom and we’re supposed to accept this?” Morrison asks.
If the CRD board approves the proposal, Esquimalt will get input on the design but likely won’t be able to block the development permit.
“My understanding of the process is development permits, if they meet all the requirements, we must approve,” says Low.
But some councillors aren’t giving up without a fight, saying re-zoning the land to block the plant could be an option.
“Zonings can change,” Morrison says. “We have all sorts of legal options that we can pursue.”
Ironically, Esquimalt was going to re-zone the property so it couldn’t be used for wastewater treatment but council says the CRD told them they didn’t need to because the sewage plant would never go here.
Saanich mayor Richard Atwell dodges questions from CHEK
The mayor of the region’s largest municipality is also speaking out against the proposal.
Saanich mayor Richard Atwell says it’s a terrible plan and he doesn’t think the numbers hold up when it comes to the cost.
Atwell spent a lot of time talking to other media on Thursday about the sewage plan but despite numerous attempts to reach him for comment on the phone and in person, Atwell wouldn’t speak to CHEK.
The Saanich mayor is expected to vote against the plan at next week’s sewage committee meeting.
Victoria mayor Lisa Helps, Esquimalt mayor Barb Desjardins and Oak Bay mayor Nils Jensen have already voiced their support for the new plan.