British Columbia

Victoria advocacy group fights secondary sewage treatment

A group of scientists and former medical health officers say they plan to fight a proposal to build a $780 million secondary sewage treatment plant for Greater Victoria.

A group of scientists and former medical health officers say they plan to fight a proposal to build a $780 million secondary sewage treatment plant for Greater Victoria.

The Association for Responsible and Environmentally Sustainable Sewage Treatment (ARESST) claims there is no scientific proof dumping screened and diluted sewage into fast-flowing ocean currents has any negative effects on the environment.

ARESST spokesperson Elizabeth Woodward says the decision to build the secondary treatment and a biosolids energy recovery plant is purely political.

"We’re going to announce the launch of a public campaign in which Victorians can easily become involved in registering their opinion," she told CBC News.

Last week, the federal government announced it would contribute about $253 million toward the cost of building a wastewater treatment plant in Esquimalt along with a second biosolids plant at the Hartland Landfill, which will convert solid waste into energy.

Woodward says taxpayers shouldn't count on federal or provincial government promises to help fund the project.

"If we start putting shovels in the ground now or in early 2013, and the Feds still haven't passed Treasury Board and the province won't pay until the deed is done, we could really be in a big problem here."

ARESST believes most citizens don't want to see taxes increase to help fund a project whose benefits have yet to be proven.

The group is hoping politicians may be willing to reverse their decision if enough residents join the cause.