Anderson doubts commitment of governments to sewage plan
Former MP David Anderson doesn’t think the provincial and federal governments will come up with their two-thirds share of the almost $1 billion needed for a regional sewage-treatment plan.
Anderson said there is nothing in writing or any budget about it.
“There’s no way on God’s green Earth they’ll each give one-third funding,” Anderson said yesterday at a meeting of the Association for Responsible and Environmentally Sustainable Sewage Treatment. The group is opposed to the land-based sewage-treatment system mandated by the provincial government to be in place by 2016.
Although the region’s plan for sewage treatment has already been approved by the Capital Regional District and is now with the province for input, he group still holds regular news conferences to oppose the plan. Its members include several local scientists, doctors and politicians.
Funding for hospitals and schools will likely trump money for sewage treatment, said Anderson, especially for governments in deficit, which could leave local taxpayers with the entire bill.
The province has said it will fund one third, while the federal government has offered to contribute a similar amount if the province does.
Others in the group were critical of a “one-size-fits-all” attitude they say the government has adopted. The group, which says it is not anti-sewage treatment but is opposed to the land-based method planned for the region, says Victoria has a unique environmental situation.
Sewage here goes through a six-millimetre screen before being shot via 100-metre-long pipes into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. There, the group’s scientists say, the turbulent, highly oxygenated water has active organisms that treat liquid waste naturally.
But Environment Minister Barry Penner defended the province’s order to impose sewage treatment on the CRD.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been already spent on scientific studies that show you can’t dump 40 billion litres a year of untreated ewage into the ocean indefinitely and not affect the environment in the long term, said Penner.