Skip to content

Coalition meets with environment minister

Group raises concerns with co-treatment

Representatives from Powell River Water Watch Coalition have met with provincial officials about their concerns with the City of Powell River’s plan to co-treat sewage at Catalyst Paper Corporation’s mill.

On January 13 and 14, members of Powell River Water Watch, a coalition of ratepayer, environmental and union groups, met with Murray Coell, minister of the environment, senior officials from his department and senior officials from the ministry of community, sport and cultural development. Nicholas Simons, MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast, also attended the meetings as a courtesy to his constituents.

At the meetings, Powell River Water Watch members raised concerns about the financial and environmental risks of handing over treatment of Powell River’s sewage to the Catalyst paper mill. They sought commitments from the provincial government that the province would not bias the selection of the best sewage treatment option for Powell River by refusing to fund any other option than paying the mill to treat city sewage.

The city has made an application to the Innovations Fund, a program under the gas tax agreement administered by UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities), for co-treatment.

According to a news release issued by water watch, the coalition obtained the following assurances from provincial officials:

• Powell River would be eligible for funding for any option that met the grant criteria; funding was available not only for the option of privatizing sewage treatment.

• The city’s liquid waste management plan could not include the dumping of raw sewage into the ocean. The draft report on the plan currently has this as a possibility during periodic mill shutdowns.

In addition, Coell invited Powell River Water Watch to submit to his office ideas for environmentally innovative sewage treatment options for Powell River that the coalition has been researching.