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CRD to pay bonus to wastewater plant builder despite smell complaints

Consultant says plant meets requirements, but CRD board reduces $1-million incentive by half
The Capital Regional District’s new wastewater treatment facility at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt. The CRD is about to award the project completion funds as a two-year performance period wraps up in January. (CRD image)

The Capital Regional District is poised to pay almost $5 million plus incentives to the builders of the area’s long-awaited wastewater plant as it admits to odour-control issues impacting surrounding community.

A two-year performance period is set to wrap up next month and the CRD will pay out project completion funds to Harbour Resource Partners, the consortium that built the McLoughlin Point Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Stantec, the CRD’s consulting representative for the project, recommended that the CRD release the project completion funds as it said the plant’s physical elements are complete and have satisfied the requirements of the project agreement.

Esquimalt and Vic West residents previously told Black Press Media about their struggles with a distinct odour that arose after the plant started up two years ago – despite contractual promises that the surrounding community wouldn’t be met with any bad smells.

While she appreciates work being done to address odours, Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said there continues to be “challenges and significant angst” in her community and Vic West.

A $1-million performance incentive was also on the table for HRP. CRD staff recommended awarding $800,000 of that. At the CRD’s Dec. 15 board meeting, directors unanimously approved a motion by Desjardins that would reduce the incentive to $500,000 due to the odour challenges.

“The reality of an incentive is that you go above and beyond,” Desjardins said, adding that the plant’s location was contingent on odours not extending beyond the property. “That is not resolved and we have no sense of time when they might be resolved.”

The CRD recognized the ongoing odour issues at the board meeting and said staff are focusing on optimizing control systems and improving operations when the plant must be unsealed for maintenance. The CRD says $6.3 million from the plant’s budget could be made available should odour control systems require modification.

The McLoughlin facility has been operated by the CRD during the two-year performance period, while HRP has been tasked with monitoring compliance on effluent quality, maximum sludge volumes, odour and noise.

The possible $1-million incentive broke down into two $500,000 components, with one dealing with a variety of process performance guarantees and another relating to operations, quality of service and more.

Four plant deficiencies valued at $70,000 won’t be resolved by the end of 2022, so $140,000 will be withheld from the $5 million payment, in accordance with the wastewater plant’s project agreement.

READ: For its neighbours, Greater Victoria’s wastewater plant woes flow through the nose Follow us on Instagram.
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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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