To the displeasure of area residents, the regional district sewage commission has opted to pursue a site at Croteau Road as the preferred location for the Comox No. 2 pump station.
A study had recommended constructing the multi-million dollar facility on Beech Street in Area B. Other possible locations were MacDonald Wood, Filberg and Baybrook parks, and a property near Comox Town Hall.
The area at the base of Croteau is an unopened road right-of-way, owned by the Town of Comox and the Transportation Ministry. The new station facilitates the installation of a forcemain from Croteau to the wastewater treatment plant, bypassing Willemar Bluff near Goose Spit.
“It did appear that, although this wasn’t a top of the favourite, that consensus had been reached,” Comox director Barbara Price said at Tuesday’s commission meeting. “It’s kind of disturbing when the message only went out yesterday and we have this number of people here.”
Area resident Lorraine Aitken says there was no consensus, at least among the community.
“Politicians may have had consensus,” she said. “We did not vote for that site. Not a chance.”
But Courtenay director Manno Theos, who chairs the commission, said “it’s the best project we possibly have.”
He drew some moans from the crowd when he said a pump station in Victoria blends well with the community.
Area B director Rod Nichol feels Croteau Road is “the best of the worst” options.
“We’re stuck with a poorly designed system from years ago,” he said. “I feel for the people that are front row, in the Beech Street area.”
Residents who participated in an advisory group say a higher-ranked, cheaper option would be to replace the Courtenay pump station and forcemain running to the Jane Place, or Comox Sewage Pump Station. Combining these projects, they claim, would save Courtenay and Comox taxpayers nearly $7 million.
However, according to the CVRD’s manager of engineering services Marc Rutten, initial capital costs are much higher for this option. As well, the existing forcemain still has many years left.
The proposed station is estimated to cost at least $10,000,000. Residents are concerned about groundwater impacts and beach access — “a key component to the design,” Rutten said. “One way or another that access will be maintained.”
The district has yet to retain an engineering consultant. Until then, road closure dates and other details are not known.
“Staff are very much open to hearing from the community,” CAO Deb Oakman said. “We’re not sure if we’ll have a neighbourhood advisory going forward but we certainly will want to be working with the neighbourhood to look at the design aspects.”