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Council to look at further options for location of wastewater plant

POWELL RIVER, B.C.- Concerns have been raised from residents of Townsite on the proposed location of Powell River’s new wastewater treatment plant.

The chair of the Townsite Ratepayers Association, Will Van Delft, said their main concern relates to the smell that would come to the neighbourhood from the facility.

“Not to mention the visual impacts of having aeration ponds and a facility like that right outside your front window,” he said, speaking to 95.7 Coast FM on Tuesday.

Powell River mayor Dave Formosa said the city has heard the concerns, and are looking to do something to address these issues.

He noted that a report will be done to see if the wastewater treatment plant could be built further south of the proposed location, at the old golf course lands below Larch Avenue and Laburnum Avenue.

Formosa said there are many factors that would come into play.

“Is it realistic? What would the cost be? Would it interrupt what we’re doing (and) what about the piping that comes to that location?”

“It’s gonna be a real long-shot, but council has said that they would get a report on what the implications would be and if it’s something that can be done without jeopardizing all the work we have done over the last number of years,” he explained.

He said the report is expected to be brought to council within the next couple of weeks.

“Once we receive the report, we need to digest it and then see how we can release what we’ve learned to the public.”

Formosa explained that he understands the viewpoint of residents, living in the Townsite neighbourhood himself.

“Everything from pathogens moving, and lowering the real estate value; birds being killed, bug and flies and birds landing in the water, and bringing in disease,” he said, listing some of the concerns.

The report was actually Formosa’s idea, after fielding questions from residents.

“When they asked, ‘have you ever considered moving it off that location, and why didn’t you do so’, I said I can’t answer that, and that’s a good question. That’s what opened the door.”

The mayor noted the wastewater treatment plant project has been ongoing in the city for more than a decade.

“We did look at co-treatment at the (Powell River) mill, which would have had (the facility) in nobody’s backyard. If we could have gotten all the work done, we could have looked seriously at putting it into the mill facility,” he said.

“The new council came in, and didn’t want any part of that, so we’re back to this location, which is the most logical location. It’s where all the engineering tells us it should be, it’s the most practical and the most cost-effective in many ways.”

Another concern brought up by Van Delft was the proposed conveyance pipeline being built in from Westview and along the Willingdon Beach Trail to the facility.

“Putting a waste pipeline through a park, which has Indigenous artifacts in it, as well as putting it through a forest, which council spent millions of dollars to protect, it just shouldn’t happen,” Van Delft said.

Formosa said that’s something that has been discussed already.

“In the planning coming forward, that’s going to get into detail on actually building the facility, we will have at least two routes (for the piping),” he said.

“There’s a number of options – you can go right up to the highway and along the highway, or you can go midway into the park up through the top of the park where it’s not on the Willingdon Beach Trail.”

He said engineering crews may even give the city two or three alternative options for the piping, and those details are still to come.

The wastewater treatment plant is expected to cost $30-million and will be the largest infrastructure project in Powell River’s history.

The plant will take care of sewage from the Tla’amin Nation, Wildwood, Westview and Townsite.

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