Cumberland chooses South Sewer option

Cumberland council chose its preferred option for treating leachate from the expanded landfill, the only one listed as preferred by consultants that could benefit the Village of Cumberland.

Council heard in February six options for a leachate treatment system to be installed at the Comox Strathcona Waste Management Centre alongside the landfill expansion planned for 2017.

Hired by the Comox Valley Regional District, EBA Engineering consultants presented a lengthy technical report outlining the options, three of which were shortlisted — on-site pre-treatment then transfer to a potential South Sewer project; on-site pre-treatment and ground discharge; and the preferred option, on-site pre-treatment then transfer to the existing Brent Road Wastewater Treatment Plant using Courtenay's existing sewer system.

Cumberland council voted last week to request additional analysis to see if the South Sewer option is viable, with Village chief administrative officer Sundance Topham's report noting this option is the only one of the shortlisted options that would potentially benefit the Village.

He pointed out the South Sewer project itself is a 'potential' project. But, this option could see $3 million in capital infrastructure costs being contributed to the South Sewer project by Comox Strathcona Waste Management, plus an additional $60,000 per year for ongoing operational and maintenance costs.

"These estimates are preliminary, and it hasn't been determined how any additional funds would be allocated to the South Sewer partners, (Comox Valley Regional District, Cumberland and K'ómoks First Nation), however any additional funding added to the South Sewer project helps make the potential project more viable," continued Topham.

He also pointed out the Village and CVRD entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding leachate treatment as part of the Host Community Agreement, which paved the way for the landfill expansion. That MOU specifies that the CVRD and the Village see potential financial benefits for a shared facility for treating their leachate and liquid waste. It also says the CVRD would work with the Village to "explore the risk and financial assessment of a mutually beneficial solution to a joint sewerage service" between the waste management centre and the Village.

Topham's report noted Village staff "were not contacted directly to propose or examine various treatment options, nor did they participate in any meetings between the CVRD and their consultants and the Ministry of Environment."

Staff wasn't, for example, given the chance to discuss an option that would see pre-treatment of leachate then transferral to Cumberland's existing treatment plan in more detail with the consultants and the ministry. This option was not shortlisted by the consultants, but was one that could potentially benefit the Village.

Mayor Leslie Baird said this lack of inclusion of Village staff concerned her.

"I'm very concerned about the comments in here about the CVRD and their lack of consultation with our staff," she said.

"They're recommending that our waste water treatment facility isn't a good option but why isn't it a good option? And that's a concern that I have that they're going about doing their business, but they're not really working with the Village."

Coun. Gwyn Sproule suggested outlining council's concerns when notifying the CVRD of Cumberland's preferred option, but Topham said the matter had been discussed at a staff level already.

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