Staff at the CVRD have been tasked to write a report for the board after neighbours of the Mill Springs wastewater treatment plant raised concerns that they have been given almost no information from the district about the ongoing upgrades at the plant. (File photo)

Neighbours want answers regarding Mill Bay wastewater project

CVRD asks staff for report on issue

Tannis Liviniuk and a number of her neighbours want information from the Cowichan Valley Regional District regarding the ongoing $5.9-million upgrade and expansion at the Mill Springs wastewater treatment plant.

Liviniuk, a resident of Mill Springs Village, spoke on behalf of many residents who live close to the plant as a delegation at the CVRD’s board meeting on Feb. 24.

She said little information has been issued to the plant’s neighbours since the process to upgrade the facility began a number of years ago.

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“This project poses multiple risks to the community, but there has been no survey or vote in the community about it,” Liviniuk said.

“There are 267 homes in Mill Springs Village and the residents have not been given any opportunity to oversee the project. My husband and I work in the construction industry and are aware of the risks of such a facility placed near homes and residential areas. When things go wrong in wastewater treatment plants, they can go horribly wrong. We’re being forced to take on new risks with no benefit or protections that we’re aware of. There’s also the potential impacts on our property values to consider.”

Liviniuk said the residents want to be informed of the details of the project.

“We don’t have the information needed to understand what’s going on,” she said.

The board passed a motion to have staff prepare a report on the neighbours’ concerns with the project and bring it back to the board table at a future meeting for further discussion.

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The CVRD received $5.9 million in infrastructure funding in 2018 from the Federal Gas Tax Fund for the first phase of the wastewater project in Mill Bay

The project is integrating a number of small, problematic community wastewater systems in and around the Mill Bay area into a central system that will meet the high quality standards required under the South Sector Liquid Management Plan.

Brian Dennison, the CVRD’s manager of water management, said a detailed response to Liviniuk’s issues and concerns in advance of the report to the board would not be appropriate.

But he pointed out that there have been 14 news releases, presentations, tours and letters sent out to stakeholders on the project, starting in 2018.

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In a report to the CVRD from the project’s manager Venessa Thomson, dated June 8, 2020, Thomson said staff met with the Mill Springs strata council about the project in April, 2019, and the meeting was well received.

She said the minutes from the meeting were provided by staff and distributed to the community by council.

“There were a few inquiries about the plan for the discharge site regarding removal of trees and trail access, and a letter was sent to the customers of the Mill Springs system,” Thomson said in the report.

“Staff received one inquiry requesting clarification, and no negative feedback was received.”

Thomson said staff provided a tour to the strata council of the existing Mill Springs plant at the time to explain the benefits of the upgrades, as well as the recently upgraded Arbutus Ridge and Cobble Hill plants.

She said staff at the time were also working on follow-up communications for the Mill Springs sewer system customers that outlined options for the existing sewer system, and benefits of the project.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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