We’re concerned about an issue that has significant environmental and financial implications for the Comox Valley.
Specifically, the Regional District’s Sewer Commission has decided to build a large sewage pump station at Croteau Beach, adjacent to the water and the Macdonald Wood Nature Park.
The proposed station would cause irreparable damage to a sensitive ecosystem. It would obstruct access to the beach, release odours and emissions in a residential area frequented by walkers, and compromise the safety of underground fresh water sources. In the longer term, it would compromise plans to build a boardwalk along the waterfront. Furthermore, any leaks – including leaks following an earthquake – would create an environmental catastrophe in Comox Bay. The errors that led to the installation of pipes along Willemar Bluffs must not be repeated.
The decision to build a station at Croteau Beach should also be of concern to taxpayers for financial reasons. A 2011 report concluded that the Courtenay station needs to be upgraded by 2020, and a 2015 report confirmed that an immediate replacement was the most effective solution. Despite these recommendations, the Sewer Commission proposes to delay this replacement and build a second station. This would be an inefficient and stop-gap solution – and a risky one – and would lead to much higher future costs.
Finally, the process by which the Sewage Commission reached its decision should be of profound concern to the public. The Commission held its discussions in private and did not appear to conduct substantive public consultations or thorough financial, technical, or environmental assessments.
We understand that the work of the Sewage Commission is difficult. However, we appeal to its members to emphasize long-term benefits over short-term thinking; think carefully about the importance of the environment; and adopt a decision-making process that is both transparent and democratic.