Approximately 130 million litres of raw sewage is pumped into the Strait of Juan de Fuca every day because the area doesn’t have a treatment plant, but Victoria has finally decided on a place to build one.
After decades of debate, the Capital Regional District (CRD) decided upon McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt. The location was rejected by Esquimalt two years ago, but a new design and plan now has the mayor’s blessing.
“Although it’s the same site, it’s a smaller footprint, the design is much nicer,” Mayor Barbara Desjardins said.
Desjardins, who also chairs the CRD Board, added the project was better than previous attempts.
“It includes a higher level of treatment for less cost, it considers community feedback with regards to set backs and public access, and looks at climate change mitigation strategies and sea level rise. With all of this taken into consideration the CRD Board felt that this is the right and responsible proposal to move forward with.”
The project was also running out of time. Ottawa gave CRD until 2020 for a plan to be in place before it revoked funding. It will now receive half a billion dollars in federal and provincial funding.
Some scientists say the ocean currents in the area act as an effective treatment and question the need for anything to be built, but the perception of raw sewage draining into the ocean didn’t please everyone.
A Seattle newspaper also floated the idea of a tourism boycott if Victoria didn’t clean up their sewage problem.
It was a rekindling of a circa-1993 boycott that resulted in a government decision to build a plant by 2002. That never happened.
Over a decade later, a $765-million plant will now be built at McLoughlin Point and Hartland landfill in Saanich.
While the majority of funding will come from federal and provincial governments, homeowners in the region will still be on the hook for their fair share.
Fees will be as high as $344 a year to homeowners in Oak Bay, $296 in Victoria, $258 in Esquimalt, $248 in View Royal, $239 in Langford, $208 in Saanich, and $146 in Colwood.
The bill will also pay for local infrastructure upgrades.