WATCH: After years of waiting and lots of controversy, the recommended location for the Victoria sewage plant has been revealed. Tess van Straaten reports.
More than two years after plans for a sewage plant at McLoughlin Point were flushed down the toilet, the controversial site is where a special sewage panel says the plant should go.
“It was cost effective and we thought the design offered an opportunity to be improved to reflect what we understood to be the concerns of Esquimalt residents,” says Jane Bird, the chair of a special sewage panel appointed by the B.C Government.
The revised plan calls for a smaller footprint at McLoughlin with the 108 megalitre/day plant set back from the shoreline.
It will have a green roof, extensive landscaping and a sea wall.
But most importantly, it will include tertiary treatment — which is significantly better than the secondary treatment being mandated.
“I think we’ve come quite a long way in the last few months in trying to arrive at a solution,” Bird says.
The capital cost is estimated to be just $765 million, far less than the $920 million Rock Bay option or the $1 billion cost for two plants.
It’s also less than the $783 million price tag in 2012 when the project was first announced.
Cost per household for Victoria sewage plant far less
The cost per household will also be a lot less — ranging from $146 a year in Colwood to $344 a year in Oak Bay.
The average annual cost per household for participating municipalities is $245.
“I’m pleased,” says Esquimalt mayor and CRD chair Barb Desjardins. “This is a very different project than before and it’s one of the things we in Esquimalt fought for.”
But it’s come at a cost — tens of millions of dollars have been wasted in the last two years, communities have been pitted against each other, and relations with Washington State have been strained.
Many critics have blamed Esquimalt, and Desjardins in particular, for stopping the project from going ahead at McLoughlin.
We asked the mayor: What do you say to people who blame Esquimalt, and you in particular, for costing us all this time and money?
“I say we’ve saved you money,” Desjardins says. “We have not lost on this, we have gained on this. We are saving money on this new proposal coming forward.”
“Everyone said it’s going to take more money if you wait,” adds Victoria mayor Lisa helps. “Actually, we’re getting a better plant with lower costs than if we had gone ahead originally so it’s been a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of blood, sweat and tears but at the end of the day it’s good news for the taxpayer and even better news for the environment.”
The CRD Board will vote on the proposal next week to meet a September 30th federal and provincial funding deadline.