Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell blasted the CRD board over the integrated resource management vote, but his Coun. Judy Brownoff defends it

Mayor trashes CRD decision on waste management

Coun. Judy Brownoff says late councillor Vic Derman would have supported CRD’s decision to cancel IRM

Mayor Richard Atwell did not mince words in his critique of the decision to cancel plans for a facility that would have streamlined various waste streams under the heading of integrated resource management (IRM).

“We invested years of our own time and our staff’s time to look at a better way of doing these things,” he said. “We were on the verge of doing it, and it is all blowing up today, and I am embarrassed to sit here and I can’t believe it is really happening this way. It is really quite shocking.”

Atwell made these comments Wednesday last week as the board of the Capital Regional District (CRD) voted to cancel the current procurement process for the facility, following a lengthy debate.

Specifically, Atwell argued that the decision denies the CRD the possibility to investigate technologies like the sludge-processing machine operating in Sedro Wooley, Wash. Developed for the Gates Foundation, the facility can handle different waste streams at different volumes, producing water and energy along the way, said Atwell.

Speaking Sunday, Atwell reiterated his critique. He also noted that the CRD must now find ways to dispose Class A biosolids, be it by shipping them elsewhere, or burning them.

The cancellation divided the Saanich delegation at the regional body, and sparked criticism from a local watch-group concerned about government efficiency.

“Vic Derman would have been bitterly disappointed in this betrayal by his fellow [councillors],” said James Anderson, a director with Amalgamation Yes, in a letter to the Saanich News.

Saanich Coun. Judy Brownoff defended the decision, and rejected charges she and others had insulted the legacy of late Saanich councillor Vic Derman, a vocal proponent of IRM.

Derman had argued that such a facility would help reduce the cost of the new regional sewage plant under construction by streamlining various waste streams with the help of technologies such as anaerobic digestion, gasification, or both.

While not part of the regional sewage plant, the facility would have processed some of the biosolids from the sewage plant, along with other types of waste such as solid municipal waste, organic waste and kitchen scraps.

But key decision makers including Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Brownoff, who chairs the CRD’s environmental services committee, questioned IRM after a workshop last month had raised several red flags.

Central to the decision of the CRD was a presentation from the consortium building the Hartland treatment facility part of the regional sewage project. Its “under-budget proposal” promised to produce more marketable dry biosolids free of charge.

Other identified concerns include the control – or lack, thereof – about source material. Helps said the district controls sewage sludge, kitchen scraps, but only 15 per cent of municipal solid waste. If the region is serious about reducing waste to net zero, then it does not make sense to build a facility that depends on waste to operate, she said.

A majority of CRD board members eventually agreed with them by cancelling the previous procurement process for an IRM facility, which Derman had previously estimated to cost $100 million.

Derman would have recognized the financial, environmental and technological risks of IRM, said Brownoff. “I believe that my former colleague [Derman] would have agreed with it,” she said of the cancellation.

Couns. Dean Murdock and Susan Brice joined Brownoff in favouring cancellation, while Atwell and Coun. Plant voted against it.

Brownoff said unanimous agreement is rare in any organization, and stressed that IRM itself is not dead – merely the current procurement process. As technology evolves, IRM may well be back on the table, said Brownoff.

“It is disingenuous to say that we are not looking,” she said.

While Brownoff confirmed these options among others, she said the process of finding a suitable use for these dried biosolids has just started. Putting together a request for proposal for the “beneficial reuse” of this dried material will take time, and the CRD will have a chance to review available options.

Just Posted

Only half of Victoria’s accessible parking meets basic standards: report

Father of a child with disabilities suggests solutions for parking design flaws

Olympic path takes new directions for Saanich’s Matt Sharpe

Sharpe wins ITU mixed relay medal with Canadian teammates

McNeil-Smith ousts incumbent for Sidney mayor’s seat

Cliff McNeil-Smith resoundly defeated the incumbent Mayor Steve Price, 3,740 to 929… Continue reading

Incumbents claim all council in Central Saanich

Nine seek a seat at the council table, mayor acclaimed

UPDATE: Votes are in for School District 63 trustees

Three candidates vie for two positions in Central Saanich

UPDATED: Geoff Orr elected mayor of North Saanich

Orr took home 64 per cent of the vote

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

B.C. oncologist changing the face of breast cancer treatment

Dr. Juanita Crook, a Kelowna oncologist, has seen 100 per cent success using brachytherapy to treat breast cancer in some patients.

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for Oct. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

B.C. man sets new Canadian marathon record at Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Cam Levins ran it in two hours nine minutes 25 seconds

Most Read