Opponents of a proposed sewage pump station at Croteau Road fear the project will damage forested trails, block beach access, threaten the last remaining salt marsh in Comox Bay and disturb archaeological remains.
In a Tuesday presentation to the regional district sewage commission, members of the MacDonald Wood Park Society suggested a better option that would save money in the long run and generate no public pushback would be to replace the Courtenay pump station.
Brad Dillen notes the proposed Comox No. 2 pump station would cost an estimated $11.6 million — for now — though the number magnifies to almost $32 million when long-term costs and inflation are considered. The Courtenay station upgrade would cost $22.9 million.
“I have been assured this option would meet planned capacity requirements in the future without a second pump station required along the route,” Dillen said before a packed house. “The advisory group recommended these two options should be studied further…. Considering the potential major impact of this decision on taxpayers over the short- and long-term, preparing a detailed financial analysis of these options should be expected by taxpayers. As responsible politicians you should want this information to support a decision of this size, so taxpayers can have a clear picture of the decisions that are being made…Making a decision too quickly could and may and will have a profound impact on the future of the Valley.”
Area B director Rod Nichol feels the commission has not adequately addressed all options related to upgrades needed for handling sewage. He also feels money has influenced the scope of the solution.
He suggests a public forum is needed to explore all options.
“The handling of our sewage is a problem that will be with us forever,” Nichol said. “A quick fix is not a solution.”
But Courtenay director/commission chair Manno Theos feels “time is of the essence,” knowing the urgency of the Willemar bluffs.
The proposed No. 2 station would facilitate the installation of a forcemain from Croteau to the wastewater treatment plant, bypassing Willemar Bluff near Goose Spit.
“I’m really concerned,” Comox director Maureen Swift said. “I know MacDonald Wood is a gorgeous place, but if that pipe goes and we’re destroying all our beaches and our shellfish industry, we are going to have a bigger problem on our hands. I would not want to be responsible for that.”
The commission defeated motions to have staff conduct a financial analysis of the Courtenay station, and to obtain a third party opinion about information presented by Dillen.
The CVRD’s next steps in the process are to consult with the Town of Comox, the Ministry of Transportation and with K’ómoks First Nation (to review the archeological assessment) and to further consult with the Croteau Beach neighbourhood. Hydrology assessments also need to be completed.