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Castlegar moving ahead with sewage plant fix

Castlegar city council hopes Woodland Park residents won’t have to hold their noses much longer.

This week council approved $50,000 in consulting fees toward a project that should help remove foul smells coming from the south sewage treatment plant.

An inspection last year by Environment Canada found the city needed a better plan to manage liquid biosolids. A consultant came up with two options and concluded the better one is something called a Geotube dewatering system.

Municipal services manager Chris Hallam told council money from sewer reserves will be used for detailed design and tendering. It’s estimated the actual supply and installation of the system will cost $386,000 and then there will be an ongoing $40,000 annual cost to buy additional Geotubes, as each can only be used once.

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Councillor Cherryl MacLeod said she was happy to see the project moving forward, but wondered if it could be sped up.

“Residents would like us to move forward,” she said. “Just go ahead and get the work done. I would hate for this to drag along any longer than it already has.”

She worried the project might be delayed given that council only meets once per month in July and August. She suggested council pre-approve the installation cost, but it’s unclear where that money will come from.

Chief financial officer Ola Oladele said the sewer reserve is one possibility, but the majority of the fund is already spoken for by other projects. Another option is increasing sewer rates and a third is to tap the city’s share of the Growing Communities Fund, where the province gave millions of dollars to local governments with few strings attached.

MacLeod supported committing funds from the latter.

“We told people in Woodland Park we would fix it, or at least look into it,” she said. “This is exactly what this money should be used for. It would be a great use.”

Councillor Brian Bogle agreed with expediting the project. “The people of Woodland Park deserve it. The faster we can get it moving the happier they would be,” he said.

However, two councillors were absent this week, and mayor Maria McFaddin said she committed that decisions around how to spend the provincial windfall would be made with all of council present.

Hallam said detailed design should be completed within a month and council still has two meetings next month, so plans could be in place before July.

MacLeod withdrew her motion and another was substituted asking staff to bring funding options forward on June 5 for the supply and install of the Geotube system.

MacLeod also asked Hallam: “Will the day come when we have enough things in place that there will be no odor?”

“That’s definitely what we’re working towards,” he replied. “There’s no one thing that’s causing the odors. It’s a multitude of things.”

Hallam said they believe the Geotubes will help. But they also have other ideas around separating fats, oils, and greases. He said present city bylaws govern the maintenance of grease traps for those who have them, but don’t give them the power to force anyone to get one.

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