Thursday, April 10, 2014

If not McLoughlin Point, where could one point a sewage treatment plant?

The whole sewage treatment thing is such a mess now that Esquimalt has not approved the rezoning of the McLoughlin Point site.  The CRD will be asking the province to intervene and overrule Esquimalt council.   I think this is preferred route all the local politicians would like to take so that none of them have to own the decision.  I think all of them are holding their breath in hopes the province will force the rezoning.  I am not so sure this government will do that.

So what if the province does not agree for force the situation?  

Here are the options for a way forward:

CRD could make Esquimalt a better offer
The CRD and Esquimalt could come to some agreement on the use of McLoughlin point if there was more on the table.   I am 100% certain there is a number that Esquimalt would accept as compensation for having the sewage treatment plant.  The CRD could offer to cover 100% of the Esquimalt budget for a couple of decades and I suspect Esquimalt would accept.  

Yes, that sounds extreme, but it is just an illustration that all the options have not been considered.   You could argue that this would be an unreasonable extreme, but the negotiation was flawed from the start from the CRD side.  

The reality of the negotiation between the CRD and Esquimalt is that it never came from the approach of not using McLoughlin Point as an option in the negotiation.   It was clear the CRD was unwilling to negotiate in good faith and accept that the site was not set.    If there was a lack of good faith in the negotiations they are with the CRD and not Esquimalt.

The whole situation we are in at the moment is because the CRD seems to have gone ahead with the plans without first getting all their ducks in a row.   Why choose McLoughlin Point and issue RFPs for the work if you do not have the site secured?   Is this because the CRD assumed Esquimalt would kowtow to the CRD or is it because the CRD assumed the province would step in and force the rezoning?

The CRD could try an offer of a large annual sum of money and see how that works.  Using a location elsewhere in the CRD will likely have some significant increased costs.  If it were to add $400,000,000 to the cost, it would save a lot to offer Esquimalt $10,000,000 a year for 20 years.  

The CRD could seek a new location
Yes, the CRD did go through a process to find the best location but there were other sites on the list.   By not securing McLoughlin Point the CRD should be looking at the other locations on the list.   It may cost a lot more money but there are alternative locations outside of Esquimalt that could be used.  

  • Clover Point - yes, it would likely mean Dallas road would have to be closed there and some houses would have to purchased and bulldozed
  • Off of coast of Uplands - this option would have one major upside, very few people would see any impact since the population density of the Uplands is so low.   
  • Thetis Cove - since what is coming out is treated there is no need to have it go far out into the ocean.  The Thetis Cove area is either in View Royal or on reserve
  • Off of Finnerty Cove - the advantage of this is that it is in Saanich and the Saanich council seems to be very strongly in favour of the current model of a large single plant and therefore would likely approve the rezoning
There are likely others.


Try with a new sewage treatment plan
The Federal and Provincial governments are not unreasonable.   If the CRD were to try again with a much better plan I suspect that the other levels of government would be willing to allow some deferral.

Core to getting the Feds and province to agree to a new plan is to show there is support for the new plan.

There are options for the way forward but the CRD seems to have locked themselves into one set model
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