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Greens, liberals share view on sewage

Oct 07 2012

Before a by election date has even been set, the sewage has hit the fan in the federal riding of Victoria as the Liberal and Green candidates have come out against a proposed secondary sewage treatment plant estimated to cost $782.7 million.

Both Green party candidate Donald Galloway and Liberal Paul Summerville, who is to be acclaimed as the party's candidate on Oct. 13, are against the project.

Summerville, an economist and adjunct professor at the University of Victoria's Peter Gustavson School of Business, said a huge local tax increase to help fund a sewage treatment plant that he believes is not needed "is fiscally and environmentally irresponsible."

Galloway, a UVic law professor and an advocate of refugee and immigrant rights, feels the same way.

"The Greens' position has not wavered on this," he said. "It's too costly and inconsistent with the need to conserve water use."

Galloway said he isn't against secondary sewage treatment, but rather the idea of one massive - and expensive - plant. He would also prefer to see more resource recovery.

The Capital Regional District's proposed secondary sewage treatment plant is scheduled to be completed by March 2018 and includes the McLoughlin Point wastewater treatment plant, a biosolids energy centre proposed for Saanich and piping-system upgrades.

The project addresses a provincial order to treat the core's sewage and federal regulations that require the CRD to have a new liquid waste management system by 2020.

The federal contribution for the project will be up to $253.4 million, the provincial contribution is a maximum of $248 million, and the CRD will provide the balance, estimated at $281.3 million. The CRD's portion and any cost overruns would be covered by taxpayers.

"These tax increases are going to show up in everybody's water bill and give the local economy another shot it doesn't need, particularly as the property market weakens," Summerville said. "It's bad economics, it's bad science, and it's bad for Victoria. And the argument that it is a done deal is, quite frankly, a lie. It isn't."

The CRD's Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee says the proposal is a "living document" and that people who don't like it should suggest changes rather than trying to argue the science or fight the regulations.

The NDP and the Conservatives are expected to select their candidates this month.

A date for the byelection to replace retired NDP MP Denise Savoie has not yet been set.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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