Questions about the location of Powell River’s planned consolidated wastewater treatment plant overshadowed the approval of the facility’s design contract at city council’s Thursday, August 3, special meeting.
The special meeting was called by staff to approve awarding a $1.3-million contract for the predesign, detailed design and tender documents from the city’s consolidated treatment plant project. But the planned location of the facility in Townsite, rather the cost, was the focus of the afternoon meeting.
Townsite residents Doug Hudson and Diana Collicutt asked council why there had not been more public consultation during the past two years. They both asked about when the planned site was decided. More than a dozen Townsite residents attended the meeting.
“A decision has been made that it's going to go into Townsite and there was no opportunity for the public to comment on that,” Collicutt told council. “There was no meeting with the advisory committee.”
Mayor Dave Formosa responded that the advisory council, which opposed a co-treatment deal with Catalyst Paper Corporation to process the city’s sewage, had not been re-formed after council was elected in 2014. He added that the current council had been elected on a promise to stop co-treatment.
“No, there wasn’t another committee,” said Formosa, “but there were many years of consultation and the Ministry of Environment approved all of that prior public consultation.”
Formosa reassured those with concerns that they will have an opportunity to provide their thoughts on the technology the city selects and the look of the facility.
“You're going to have an opportunity for public consultation on what they are going to build there,” said Formosa.
Councillor Karen Skadsheim, who holds the city infrastructure portfolio, responded that the plan was to use as much existing infrastructure as possible to save money and the Townsite location was also approved by the current council.
The April 2015 liquid-waste-management plan stage three, submitted to BC Ministry of Environment, states that after the co-treatment option was abandoned the city adopted a consolidated approach and facility to be located at or near the existing Townsite wastewater treatment facility.
The plan calls for connecting the Wildwood and Westview systems to Townsite’s, which already handles Cranberry Lake’s. Also including Tla’amin Nation, three of four wastewater outfalls will be eliminated with the new plant.
The ministry approved the plan in 2016, allowing the city to move forward and start applying for grants. The full project cost is approximately $30 million.
“If the sewage-treatment plant is done well and properly, it shouldn't matter where it is," said Skadsheim. "The mandate from this council is that we have an environmentally and/or technologically innovative plant.”
In March, the city was approved for up to $4 million for the design of the plant. By approving the $1.3-million contract, the city’s 17 per cent project contribution will be $226,000 from its sewer infrastructure reserve fund.
Burnaby-based Associated Engineering Ltd. will carry out the design work that includes various site assessments, recommendations for three water treatment technologies, recommended options from biosolids management and options for resource recovery.
According to the requirements of the federal and provincial infrastructure grants funding 83 per cent of the project, the work needs to be complete be March 31, 2018.
“The project is time sensitive,” city acting director of infrastructure Frank D’Angio told council. “March 31 is a really tight timeframe to get the project done.”