It was never going to come up roses, but the options for sewage treatment in Queen Charlotte are clearing up ahead of the February referendum.
Opus, the engineering company that studied four potential sites for a future sewage treatment plant back in 2010, recently took a brief look at the 4603 Martynuik Road property that residents will vote on purchasing on Feb. 24.
“Based on the information provided, there are no technical issues which would prevent the use of the proposed site,” the company said.
“However, it would not typically be a preferred site should other options exist due to the added operational costs and complexities directly resulting from the site elevation, grades, and distance from the collection system.”
Opus estimates the annual cost to pump sewage up to the hillside site at between $15,000 and $20,000. Pumping it 11 km to the Skidegate treatment system would likely cost up to 10 per cent less.
Opus also estimates that an access road to a plant high on the Martynuik Road site could have slopes of up to 20 per cent.
“We’ve never said it’s perfect,” said Lori Wiedeman, chief administrative officer for the Village of Queen Charlotte.
“If we can get the information out and people make an informed decision, that’s a win. It’s really up to the community.”
Based on the 2010 Opus study and a 2013 study that looked at linking the Queen Charlotte and Skidegate systems, the village estimates it would cost about $8.6 million just to build the plant at the Martynuik Road site, and $13.2 million to connect with Skidegate — another option that was frequently raised at an open chat with village staff at Queen B’s coffee shop last week.
Costs for such projects are typically shared by federal, provincial, and municipal governments.
Several questions remain, such as whether the connection with Skidegate might get shorter once the Skidegate system is extended to serve the new Haida Gwaii Co-op. Wiedeman said it’s possible, but only if a new forcemain is built in the area. Otherwise, the systems would have to connect at the Skidegate forcemain by Front Street.
The debate stayed polite at the Queen B’s chat, which featured the first public showing of navy-blue “Vote No February 24” campaign buttons.
That’s how Reine Pineault, who has lived in Queen Charlotte for 50 years, will be voting.
“Nobody’s saying we don’t need a treatment plant — we need something,” Pineault said. “But this is the wrong place, it’s way too costly.”
“I’m against it because I know my great, great, great-grandkids are going to be paying for it.”