British Columbia

Capital Regional District approves Victoria-area sewage treatment plant

The CRD board has approved McLoughlin Point as the location for a sewage treatment, a major development in a decades-long battle between the region's municipalities.

McLoughlin Point previously chosen by CRD but plan fell apart when Esquimalt wouldn't approve zoning

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

The Capital Regional District voted in favour of building a regional sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt, Wednesday.

The approval follows the recommendation of a provincial project board appointed to take a fresh look at the options available and deal with residents' concerns.

McLoughlin Point was previously chosen by the CRD as the preferred site, but the plan fell apart when Esquimalt's city council refused to approve the required zoning.

"Is McLoughlin what I envisioned for the region? No," Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said. "But I think Esquimalt, through its process and its values and its determination, brought the plan proposed for the region to a better place."

The new proposal for McLoughlin Point includes a smaller footprint and significant improvements to landscaping, project board chair Jane Bird said last week.

The vote was nearly unanimous, with only Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell voting against it.

"We're never going to come up with a plan where everybody is happy," View Royal Mayor David Screech said. "It's just not going to happen, but we've come full circle. It's a good plan, it's good for the region … we can move forward and put this chapter behind us."

Other sites included in plan

Currently, waste is discharged into the ocean with only primary screening, to the dismay of environmentally-conscious residents and Washington State.

While liquids treatment will occur at McLoughlin Point, solids processing will be located at Hartland landfill in Saanich.

The CRD noted in a press release that the plan includes "a process to develop an integrated resource management solution for the region's waste" and a commitment to study wastewater treatment in Colwood.

McLoughlin Point as it appears today. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Funding deadline just two weeks away

The decision is a major development in the CRD's decades-long battle over where and how to treat sewage from the region.

The federal government wanted a final decision on a location by Sept. 30 or the project could have lost $253.4 million in federal funding.

The province has committed to providing another $248 million toward the project's $765 million budget.

The CRD faces a deadline of 2020 to provide secondary sewage treatment. Next steps include financial and regulatory approvals from the provincial and federal governments.