Viewpoint: Treatment plant proposal unacceptable

Associated Engineering recently presented three possible Consolidated Waste Water Treatment (CWTP) plans for Powell River ["Committee hears wastewater facility options," November 22]. The city requested the plans had to demonstrate “experience with sustainability and environmental stewardship.”

As a taxpayer, I was left with more questions than answers and that the above priorities and expectations had not been met. My thoughts were confirmed when I compared these plans to Esquimalt, North Vancouver and Sechelt proposals.

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Powell River is a “coastal by nature” destination for thousands of international athletes and tourists. One would think the plant would be designed to blend into its park-like setting. The presentation did not show a buried and covered treatment complex. Why not? It looks like an industrial plant. Why?

Willingdon Beach Trail connects Westview to the planned site. One proposed pumping line from Westview is on the foreshore intertidal zone. Another is parallel to the trail. What will happen to the roots of the mature trees lining the trail? How is earthquake activity accounted for? How are rising sea levels accounted for? Will the pipes be venting odours alongside the trail?

Why not extend Willingdon Beach Trail, so it runs to an interpretation centre on the plant site? Don’t laugh. This is the progressive new CWTP model. CWTPs are now tourist and education centres, and are architecturally progressive and beautiful. They feature green roofing and interior and exterior landscaping.

Our CWTP is going to be built on Powell River’s remaining undeveloped coastal property. Couldn’t this become an educational interpretive centre with benches so people could enjoy viewing the hulks and resident marine life?

International tourists come to Powell River because they’ve lost, or never had, the natural environment we have. We should incorporate a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, state-of-the-art CWTP, while enhancing our remaining coastline.

The three treatment plant proposals would occupy from four to 10 acres. The CWTP will lie within sight of southern Townsite homeowners. The CWTP plans presented do not blend into this park-like setting. If it does not blend in, will the city compensate the costs of devalued real estate to all adjacent homeowners? Will Powell River provide an amenities package to the Townsite area? Will an environmental impact study be conducted?

BC is the most biodiverse province in Canada. Studies indicate half of our species are deemed at risk, mostly due to habitat degradation. Lands the CWTP will be on are special for migratory birds that follow our Pacific shoreline.

The old golf course lands contains freshwater, saltwater, meadows, old- and young-growth trees and plenty of dense shrubbery. It provides food, water and shelter for seedeaters and carnivores; 143 bird species have been sighted on these lands.

Can our city leaders put the interests of our children and all creatures into the big picture? They should leave an attractive, sustainable legacy when they commit to the final plans for Powell River’s Consolidated Wastewater Treatment Plant.

We are the taxpayers. It is our job to familiarize ourselves with current best CWTP practices in our province.

We should contact our elected representatives to advise them about what we want for our future. These proposals are not good enough for Powell River.

Lesley Armstrong is an environmentally conscious and civic-minded resident of Powell River.

Copyright © 2017 Powell River Peak

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