British Columbia

Victoria fails sewage test, again

Environmental groups are calling on the federal government to lay charges against the City of Victoria for dumping raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Environmental groups are calling on the federal government to lay charges against the City of Victoria for dumping raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

   

 
The Capital Regional District is the only major municipality in Canada that still discharges its sewage untreated. 

The National Sewage Report Card gave the city an F-minus for that five years ago, and has now gone the next step and suspended the city.

The report's author, Margot Venton, says municipal officials continue to ignore the fact that the discharges have caused permanent shellfishing closures, and have made killer whales in the area the most toxic animals on earth.

                         

Margaret Venton
"They've repeatedly ignored requests by the federal government, and even the provincial government, at certain points in time, to upgrade their sewage treatment plant to a standard that would bring them on par and on pace with other developed nations."

Venton says both the United States and the European Union already have enforceable sewage discharge laws, but in Canada there are only guidelines.

However, Venton says federal fisheries laws could be used to force Victoria to act.

   

                                       

Victoria shoreline
The chair of the regional district environment committee says traditional sewage treatment does not eliminate toxins.

Dave Cubberly says that's why the CRD has focused on preventing toxins from entering its wastewater.

"We have a very aggressive source control program, which is specifically designed to keep toxic contaminants out of the waste stream," he says. "We're the only community in Canada that has a source control program on that scale."

But Venton dismisses that argument, saying a lack of enforcement makes the CRD's source control program ineffective.

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