The Capital Regional District has appealed to the provincial government to end a showdown and order the town of Esquimalt to accept a sewage plant on its waterfront, but B.C.'s environment minister won't say yet whether she will intervene.
Yesterday afternoon, the Capital Regional District board voted to ask the province to overrule Esquimalt's local zoning bylaws, after the township rejected an application that would have allowed the CRD to go ahead with plans to build a sewage plant at McLoughlin Point.
That's where the CRD hopes to build the liquid waste plant that will be the linchpin in its $780-million sewage plan.
The provincial cabinet has the power to force Esquimalt to accept the plant, but Minister Mary Polak says she's reluctant to use it.
"I am not inclined to intervene in a matter that is ultimately, and should ultimately be a local decision."
"No provincial government should take lightly the idea of interfering when it comes to something that is legitimately within the bounds of a local government."
But Polak did leave the door open for a ruling in the CRD's favour.
"I certainly will review whatever request is made of us and I will look forward to seeing what the CRD presents."
Back to the drawing board?
If the province doesn't intervene it could send the region's sewage plan back to the drawing board and force the CRD to find a new site.
Polak said she is prepared to offer the region an extension on a provincial deadline to implement sewage treatment. But she reminded the CRD that it must comply with federal regulations to have a system up and running by 2020.
Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said the proposed site for the plant at the entrance to Victoria Harbour was not a popular choice.
"People in the region don't feel the gateway to this community, the gateway to B.C., the gateway to Canada should have a sewage treatment plant," said Desjardins.