Public will be consulted on biosolids centre

Mar 28, 2013

Sent on behalf of Denise Blackwell, Chair, Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee on behalf of the Board of the Capital Regional District.

As we move to upgrading our sewage treatment in our region, finding a site large enough (a minimum of 8 acres) for a biosolids processing facility in an urban area is a difficult challenge.The CRD Board decided not to consider expropriating property (i.e. to acquire without the owner’s agreement), and committed to looking for a willing seller of land that would be largeenough to accommodate wastewater facilities. We also decided to exclude land in the Agricultural Land Reserve from the search. These decisions severely limited the number of potential sites for evaluation using equally weighted economic, environmental and social criteria.

Since the decision to designate Hartland landfill as a potential site for the Biosolids Energy Centre (BEC), which was approved by the province, the public has expressed concerns about the need for pipelines 18 kilometre long and four pump stations to convey the sludge from the McLoughlin wastewater treatment plant. As a result, the CRD has, over the past three years, conducted an exhaustive search for potential sites closer to the treatment plant but was only able to secure the Viewfield Road property. The CRD has purchased Viewfield Road as a POTENTIAL site for the BEC.

The CRD attempted to negotiate an option to purchase for this site and other sites so that a public consultation process could be conducted prior to purchasing the property, but the owners were unwilling to enter into such an agreement. As with all land purchase negotiations, they are discussed in closed meetings so as not to alert speculators as to the interest of the CRD in a particular property, which could result in higher costs to the CRD, or because of confidentiality requirements of the potential vendor. Also, the purchase price for the property was based on an independent appraisal commissioned by the CRD to establish the market value to ensure protection of taxpayers’ interests.

The decision on any change to the location of the BEC will not be made until there has been a full public consultation process with the residents of all the municipalities contributing to the Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program. Public consultation will be held in early June. The dates of the consultation, as well as associated materials, will be published on the CRD website and in local media. Any change would require a decision of the Board and the approval of the provincial government.

The CRD’s Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee is committed to the Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program – a plan that ensures the lowest cost, the least impact on the environment and residents and the highest possible resource recovery from wastewater.