The Comox Valley Water Pollution Control Centre treats sewage (wastewater) from businesses and residences in Comox and Courtenay. Photo courtesy of the CVRD

Group proposes agreement to build trust with Comox Valley Regional District

The Curtis Road Residents Association (CRRA) has proposed a Good Neighbour Agreement between Electoral Area B and the Comox Valley Regional District sewage commission. The agreement sets out expectations pertaining to the sewage treatment plant in terms of odour level, noise and light pollution.

“The agreement would help build some trust, which is still sorely lacking,” association member Jenny Steel said in a Sept. 17 presentation to the commission. She noted that an Unsightly Premises Bylaw requires property owners to not foul or contaminate the air of neighbours.

“We believe implementation of this standard would avoid legal action under nuisance tort law.”

Sewage commission chair David Frisch said the proposal will be taken under advisement.

“We do find it a slap in the face and undemocratic that other small constituencies (namely the Department of National Defence and K’ómoks First Nation) appear to be welcomed without hesitation to permanent membership on the sewage commission,” Steel said after the meeting. “Meanwhile, Comox commissioners treat Area B, the host community for a huge part of sewer service infrastructure, as a pariah.”

The sewage commission consists of three representatives each from Comox and Courtenay, and one from CFB Comox. It does not have representation from Lazo North, even though the treatment plant is located on Brent Road in Area B. The CRRA has requested a bylaw amendment to add the Area B director as a voting member of the commission. The group’s main concerns are bioreactor odour controls, and an equalization basin planned for a buffer zone between properties and the Comox Valley Water Pollution Control Centre.

“The bio-reactors stink and need to be covered soon, or the CVRD will find themselves not only with a myriad of bylaw complaints but also back in front of the courts,” Steel said.

The sewage treatment plant treats wastewater from Courtenay and Comox. The CVRD began to receive odour complaints shortly after the facility was built in 1984. The following year, the Curtis Road residents committee filed legal action, which was resolved out-of-court in 1992. Along with compensating residents, the CVRD relocated the composting facility, and installed additional treatments to capture and treat the most odorous gases from equipment. By 1997, a scrubber system had been installed for $2 million. In 2002, a new composting facility worth $5 million was constructed at the waste management centre.

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