City of Powell River elected officials will be considering a recommendation from staff to approve a phased consolidated sewage treatment option during a special council meeting on June 23.
The staff recommendation was added to the agenda of the June 16 committee-of-the-whole meeting. Councillors were going to discuss it and another recommendation about a proposed town hall meeting.
However, Councillor Jim Palm, who is chair of the liquid waste management plan (LWMP) steering and joint local-technical advisory (JAC) committees, pre-empted the discussion and made a motion to refer them to a special council meeting.
Palm said he made the motion so the “public is well informed of all of the information that is going to come out during our discussion. I think that will be a very healthy step seeing these were put on the agenda at the last minute.”
If the public was aware of the recommendations, Palm added, “we’d have this committee room bulging at the seams right now.”
Palm’s motion was to refer the issue to a special council meeting, scheduled for 2:30 pm on Thursday, June 23. Councillor Dave Formosa seconded Palm’s motion.
Richard Stogre, manager of engineering services, wrote the report that contains a recommendation “that the phased consolidated treatment option be approved as the waste water treatment option for the liquid waste management plan stage three.”
Stogre wrote that it was apparent at the June 2 steering committee meeting the phased consolidated option was not yet fully understood by all. “This option is defined by combining the joint treatment option with the consolidated option, melding the advantages of both,” he wrote. Joint treatment is an option that involves Catalyst Paper Corporation treating the city’s sewage. Consolidation involves building a stand-alone treatment plant that will be owned and operated by the city.
The advantages of the phased consolidated option, according to Stogre, are: the city will be able to utilize an Innovations Fund $7.27 million grant immediately if awarded; the city will be able to achieve compliance with the ministry of environment in a short time period; and stage two of phased consolidation could be planned for the future when further funding from senior government may be available.
Since city council has removed the old primary clarifier from consideration as an option, available sites are the former waste transfer site in Westview and the Townsite sewage treatment plant as potential locations. “The transfer station has never been a consideration for the first stage of the phased consolidation option nor the joint treatment option due to its distance from the mill,” Stogre wrote. “This leaves the Townsite sewage treatment plant as the only available location for the screening and grit facility.” It would also be the location of a consolidated plant, if stage two went ahead.
As treatment and location are known, Stogre continued, council is free to proceed with final approval based on the phased consolidated treatment option or joint treatment, knowing that this facility will be located at the Townsite sewage treatment plant. “The consolidated treatment option will need to go back to the JAC for site selection using the matrix,” he wrote. “If council so chooses at this meeting to leave the original consultation plan as is, the town hall meeting could be planned further into the fall when more people are available.”