The French Creek Pollution Control Centre is scheduled to undergo expansion and odour control upgrades this year but a Qualicum Beach resident is wondering what seems to be taking so long.
“The sign on the property states that upgrades will commence in 2020-2021,” wrote Chris Berndt in a letter to the Regional District of Nanaimo. “Currently this site is devoid of any construction or upgrades being performed.”
Berndt pointed out the foul odour emanating from the plant and wants the Vancouver Island Health Authority and the Town of Qualicum Beach to exert some pressure on the RDN to get the project going.
The centre treats wastewater from approximately 28,000 people and businesses in Parksville and Qualicum Beach as well as the service areas of French Creek, Pacific Shores, Surfside, and Barclay Crescent. It also treats trucked waste from homes with septic systems and holding tanks and currently provides secondary treatment with trickling filters to meet provincial and federal environmental regulations.
It is being expanded to meet the growing population and also to improve the odour control, upgrade the aging infrastructure to enhance efficiency and also to contribute to carbon neutrality with use of solar panels and recovering heat treated effluent.
The project will cost approximately $48.5 million.
Residents in the area are being notified that tree clearing and grubbing will be undertaken starting March 8 to provide construction access to the site and to make room for the plant expansion.
“We are doing work on the project,” said Sean de Pol, director of water and wastewater services.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, De Pol said it has made it difficult for the RDN to hold face-to-face information sessions about the project.
“The last one we held was at Oceanside Place and the room was absolutely packed,” said De Pol. “There were a lot of people that came out who are very interested in the project. It’s not easy to connect with those people unless you do that face-to-face meeting.”
De Pol said the RDN has been waiting to hear results from several grant applications from last year and had also submitted another funding applications last February to help pay for the project. Some of the funds will be drawn from the RDN’s capital reserve and also through borrowing.
De Pol said they are still working on the tender document for the entire project. A request for proposal will be issued later this year.
Those wishing to know more about the progress of the project can visiting www.getinvolved.rdn.ca