After more than a month of public outcry, British Columbia officials in the District of Saanich have decided to spare upwards of 50 trees that would have been affected by the installation of 19 kilometres of pipe to be connected to a new wastewater treatment plant.
The trees are located on a residential street, and several people in the neighbourhood expressed outrage about the project’s impact on the aesthetics of the community around Grange Road, as well as the lack of consultation about the process.
Originally, the pipe was to be placed in an existing utility trench under the road, forcing the removal of dozens of trees. Now, the pipe will be shifted to a new alignment under the road to spare the trees. However, the project will cost more and take longer to complete, according to Capital District Region (CRD) officials. The precise new cost is not yet known. Residents will also now have to deal with rock blasting under the new alternative.
The CRD announced it would also hire an arborist to ensure all steps are taken to protect the trees during the different phases of construction.
“To preserve trees we have shifted the alignment to the west side of the street, and rock will therefore need to be cleared by blasting or mechanical machinery,” said a release from the CRD last week.
The $765-million McLoughlin Point Wastewater Treatment Plant has been under construction since June 2017 after decades of debate over the project, mostly involving infighting between mayors in the region. The entire project may be completed by December 31, 2020, and consists of three main elements: the wastewater treatment plant, the residuals treatment facility, and a conveyance system.
Local artists have even painted portions of the sewage pipes for the project.