Sooke mayor defends planned sewage-sludge facilities tour of Europe

It’s a ‘significant project for the region,’ says Maja Tait

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait is defending a planned tour of European sewage and biosolid processing plants in Europe.

“We’ll see first hand what’s involved, how they operate – even if they omit an odor,” said Tait, chairwoman of the Capital Regional District’s Integrated Resource Management Advisory Committee.

The committee approved the trip, which could also include stops in North America. A final vote on whether the trip goes ahead will go before the CRD board on Wednesday (Sept. 13).

Critics says there’s little value in such a trip. The tour is intended to help directors decide on a method of treating sludge coming from the region’s $765-million sewage-treatment project.

“We could use our time and money for better uses,” said Mike Hicks, electoral area director for the Juan de Fuca.

“Integrated means more than one, so why are we going to a single-source facility in [Europe]? I think they’re hurrying it, and for that reason I voted no,” Hicks said.

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell also doesn’t like the idea of a European tour.

“I spoke out against it and I thought it was a poor use of taxpayers’ money,” said Atwell. The trip also promises to offer few beneficial insights, because it will examine plants that will hold few if any lessons for the Capital Regional District. “I don’t think it’s objective,” said Atwell.

RELATED: Saanich mayor attacks planned sewage tour of Europe

But Tait said it’s important that both staff and policy makers make an informed decision on dealing with sludge processing.

Tait used the analogy of buying a house. You wouldn’t buy a house online or from a document without looking at it first.

If the CRD board approves the trip, five people will go, which includes three politicians, most likely Tait, CRD chairwoman Barb Desjardins and Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton.

The trip will include locations in Germany, Spain, Belgium and France and would cost $8,500 per person.

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