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Sewage funding approvals expected by the spring

Feb 09 2012

Capital Regional District staff said Wednesday they expect the provincial and federal governments to announce funding approval for their portions of the $782-million secondary sewage treatment project by the spring.

Details were discussed by the region's sewage committee in camera. Beforehand, Jack Hull, project manager for the regional plan, told the committee in open meeting: "We are actively working with B.C. and Canada on finalizing the funding arrangement."

The project has been in limbo since the fall, when the province approved the region's plan to provide secondary sewage treatment. Currently, sewage is sieved through a six-millimetre metal screen before it is piped into the ocean. The province mandated that secondary sewage treatment be in place by 2016.

The region has worked on the treatment plan for years. However, before it can proceed, the senior levels of government must commit in writing to the funding.

"The funding issue is critical," said Saanich Coun. Susan Brice, a Saanich councillor on the sewage committee. "I respect the fact that staff has talked about finalizing a funding arrangement and agreement. But paperwork is one thing, the announcement is another. Is there anything to report other than we're hoping for something in the spring?"

That question was referred to the in-camera portion of the meeting after regional staff said it involved negotiations.

Costs to individual homeowners have not been finalized and will vary according to municipality. The current estimate is between $150 to $400 per home, depending on the way the municipality currently pays for the collection of sewage and the pump station.

A committee will itemize more specific costs for each community, with a variety of models. "The cost ranges by municipality, but it is certainly not in the $500 to $600 range," said Kelly Daniels, chief administrative officer.

Although the province mandated treatment be in place by 2016, that is no longer possible, Hull said.

If funding approval comes this spring, construction could start by 2013 with completion of all facilities by early 2018, he said.

The approved treatment plan calls for a liquids-only treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt. Sludge left after the liquid is extracted would be piped 18 kilometres to a biosolids digestion facility at Hartland landfill in Saanich.

Underground storage tanks will be built in Saanich in Cadboro Bay.

Esquimalt Coun. Lynda Hundleby reiterated that Esquimalt residents still have many questions about the McLoughlin Point facility and want some form of amenity for hosting the region's sewage.

"We lose taxes and we also get this sort of reputation for being that community," Hundleby said. "I think we need to have something to offset that."

The CRD received a legal opinion earlier that it could not compensate the host community with any particular amenities but could do "enhanced mitigation."

kwestad@timescolonist.com

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