WATCH: Greater Victoria’s embattled sewage project is finally moving ahead after the CRD board voted in favour of the $765 million proposal. Tess van Straaten reports.
It’s official. After decades of debate, years of delays and tens of millions of dollars, Greater Victoria’s controversial sewage plant is finally one step closer to reality.
“I’m feeling very relieved and the region will get the project that it deserves,” says Victoria mayor Lisa Helps.
At a marathon meeting of the Capital Regional District board on Wednesday, local mayors and councillors debated the $765 million tertiary treatment plan proposed by a provincially-appointed sewage panel.
It calls for a smaller plant at McLoughlin — the same site the CRD selected more than two years ago that was then blocked by Esquimalt Council.
“Is McLoughlin what I envisioned for the region?” Esquimalt mayor and CRD board chair Barb Desjardins asked at the meeting. “No. But I will support this plan.”
Esquimalt’s mayor says the project board listened to the community’s concerns and it’s resulted in a much better, more environmentally-friendly plan for less money.
“Esquimalt benefits out of this plan,” Desjardins said. “It’s not the site we wanted but there is $20 million in amenities.”
But Saanich’s mayor. who’s been an outspoken critic, said he couldn’t support the plan — even though not moving forward with it would mean losing more than $450 million dollars in federal and provincial funding.
“What we should have here in front of us is a strong business case that is in our best interest,” Atwell says. “We cannot compare against hypotheticals or projects that were never built. There’s no savings in a project that was never built.”
CRD board votes 14-1 in favour of McLoughlin Point sewage plan
In the end, Atwell was the only one to vote against the plan, which will be the biggest infrastructure project in Greater Victoria history.
“We as a board have come together, we’ve made this decision, we’re moving forward and the region should be very happy,” Desjardins told CHEK News.
“Even tough it’s been painful, here we are — there’s no blood on the floor, no teeth knocked out and a better plan at the end of the day,” adds Helps.
The proposal will now go to Ottawa to sign off on and while Esquimalt Council will debate the issue next week, officials say there’s nothing the Township can do this time to stop it.