Tofino has until the end of 2020 to stop flushing its raw sewage into the ocean and will pay for a plan to come in under deadline.
Tofino’s municipal council recently awarded a $100,434 contract to engineering consultants Opus Dayton Knight Ltd. to complete the third stage of a liquid waste management plan by 2017.
“The preparation of a Liquid Waste Management Plan is a significant undertaking for a municipality of any size. This is especially true for Tofino with a population of 2,000 and a relatively small tax-base,” read a report submitted by district CAO Bob MacPherson last month that recommended Tofino hire Opus Dayton Knight.
“Stage 3 of the LWMP will set out items such as method of treatment and approaches to financing the required work. Importantly, any borrowing for a waste treatment plant does not require approval of electors through voting or alternate means. It is therefore important that the development of the LWMP give the public opportunities to comment on plan content.”
The 2017 report is expected to include three possible locations for a wastewater treatment plant in Tofino and MacPherson said location would be one of four major factors to tackle along with collection, treatment, and cost.
“Those are the four things we’ll be wrestling with for, we think, until 2017,” he said.
“We’re going to be working with our advisory committee as well as the community to identify sites.”
Tofino is one of a handful of Vancouver Island communities without a wastewater treatment plant with seven southern municipalities—Victoria, Oak Bay, Saanich, Langford, Colwood, Esquimalt and View Royal—also on the list.
Stage 1 of Tofino’s liquid waste management plan was submitted and approved in 2000 though this approval came with directions to include secondary treatment in future plans with options for fish processing wastewater, odour control, source control, outfall design and location, according to MacPherson’s report.
He added potential impacts to local marine resources were also flagged for further investigation.
Stage 2 was approved by the Ministry of Environment in 2005 and the ministry laid out the need for a Stage 3 plan that included: an environmental impact assessment, comprehensive monitoring, public consultation, and estimated costs.
Tofino submitted a Stage 3 plan in 2009 but this plan was returned to the district without approval from the ministry.
The district then hired Motherwell Engineering to scope out issues facing the Stage 3 plan but there are no records of Motherwell’s work being submitted to the ministry, according to MacPherson.
Near the end of last year, the district hired Blake Medlar—a former ministry staffer who had worked on Tofino’s Stage 1 and 2 plans—to help come up with a terms of reference for the Stage 3 work.
MacPherson stressed public consultation will be a key cog in Stage 3’s wheel.
“While engineering consultants will have a significant role to play in community consultation, it is anticipated that staff and Council will be most involved in working with the community in preparation of this plan,” he wrote.
MacPherson told the Westerly that as long as the plan lands on time in 2017, shovels should be in the ground by 2018 en route to a fully functional wastewater treatment plant by the 2020 deadline.
He acknowledged the deadline was not self-imposed but said Tofino would have looked to shore up its sewage anyway.
“We’ve been directed by the federal government, into whose waters we discharge waste presently, to stop discharging raw sewage by that date,” he said.
“Not withstanding that, I think there’s pretty universal buy-in in our community that treating our waste before discharging is the right thing to do.”
He said Opus Dayton Knight’s $100,434 plan would lay out expected costs and funding options for the plant including potential federal and provincial grants and private sector partnerships.