British Columbia

Capital Regional District directors consider trip to Europe to study waste, sewage options

Metchosin mayor calls trip a 'junket,' says looking to Europe is not the way to find the best technology

McLoughlin Point sewage plant

A concept drawing of the McLoughlin Point plant, which the CRD board has voted to approve. (CRD)

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Capital Regional District directors are considering travelling to Europe to examine how jurisdictions there manage their waste — including the sewage sludge that is left over after the process of sewage treatment.

But one director is calling the proposed trip a "junket" and argues that directors don't need to go to Europe to find suitable technology.

CRD staff suggested in a report that directors take the tour, which would include visiting sites in Germany, Spain, Belgium and France, followed by a tour of some facilities in North America.

The proposal will be discussed at the Integrated Resource Management Advisory Committee on Sept. 6.

Focus on integrated waste management

This proposal comes after the CRD decided in November 2016 to build a regional sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt that would treat liquids, while the left over solids would be processed at the Hartland landfill in Saanich.

Esquimalt Mayor and CRD Board Chair Barb Desjardins said the proposed trip is meant to explore options for a larger "integrated resource management" system for the region.

"What we have outstanding in the Capital region is we are still not sure what to do with our organic waste. We have the opportunity to do better things with biosolids … as well, we're looking at what to do with solid waste," said Desjardins.

"We know that in Europe they're much further ahead than we are, because they don't have a lot of land. 

"They've had to move away from landfills and they've had to figure out how best to deal with their waste streams. So that is a source of wealth when it comes to dealing with integrated resource management."

A 'junket'

Another CRD director, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, calls the proposed trip a "junket".

He said that much of Europe is using older technology when it comes to waste management and it would be better for the CRD to put out the call for tender and see what companies can offer the region.

"See what comes in. Take a look at the technologies ... and then they will find that there are a number of technologies that are not being contemplated that are there," Ranns told CBC News.

"This is being done out of order."

Desjardins said the CRD doesn't have time to test out technologies, because the province requires the region to have an integrated resource management solution by 2012.

"So the staff report indicates that doing a trip to see and ask the questions and understand what those jurisdictions are doing is the best way, other than having a pilot project," she said. 

According to a CRD staff report, the tour will include a "broad cross-section" of facilities with technologies that process biosolids, organics and mixed waste streams.

The proposed tour will visit eight European locations during a week in October, which will be followed by a North American leg in November with an itinerary that will be influenced by what is learned during the European leg.

The cost per attendee is estimated at $8,500 for the European segment and $4,000 for the North American segment. 

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