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Seattle Times letters to the editor

Topic: British Columbia

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June 12, 2014 at 1:53 PM

Victoria Sewage: Big response from B.C. residents taking issue with Seattle Times editorial

Victoria’s unofficial mascot, Mr. Floatie, speaks to the media at a 2006 press conference on Victoria sewage. Though James Skwarok hung up his suit when it appeared Vancouver Island would build a sewage treatment plant, he has since come out of retirement for a “second movement.” (Photo by Bruce Stotesbury/ Victoria Times Colonist)

A decades-long effort to build a plant to treat Greater Victoria’s sewage  is now blocked by a local-government zoning squabble. On Sunday, The Seattle Times editorial board published an editorial, “Victoria sewage creates new stink,” that has created quite a stink of its own among our friendly neighbors to the north. The Times’ editorial was picked up by Victoria’s Times Colonist, and the issue was covered Wednesday on KING5 news. Gov. Jay Inslee has also sent a letter to B.C. Premier Christy Clark stating “concern by the lack of progress,” stressing the effect of untreated wastewater on Washington state.

Since publication of the editorial, I’ve received more than a dozen letters in response from B.C. residents, all taking issue with the editorial. They write, among other points, that current waste dumping in the Strait of Juan de Fuca has negligible impact, and the reason for opposition to the proposed plant is more due to a different type of waste: wasteful spending.

Read the best responses below, and send your opinions on the issue to letters@seattletimes.com.

Sewage treatment coming

Washington State residents can rest assured that Greater Victoria will have sewage treatment in the near future [”Victoria sewage creates new stink,” Opinion, June 8].

The governments of Canada and British Columbia have requirements in place that must be met. The province has approved a liquid-waste management plan for the region, which includes the construction of a sewage-treatment plant for Greater Victoria, and federal regulations mandate there must be sewage treatment by 2020.

I fully expect the region to meet both their provincial and federal obligations — and that proper sewage treatment will be in place.

Mary Polak, minister of environment, province of British Columbia

Seattle in no place to discuss Victoria’s issues

For a Seattle newspaper to call the Strait of Juan de Fuca “our waters” seems arrogant — let’s hear from places close to it, such as Friday Harbor and Port Angeles. And what does King Country have to do with the subject? Last I heard, Skagit and Whatcom counties were close to the strait, not King nor Snohomish counties.

The Times’ editorial is ignorant of technical factors and of a real debate about how to organize treatment of sewage, including environmental costs of moving sludge around, distributed treatment versus centralized, advancing technology, removal of heavy metals, and (mis-) management of the project.

Yes, the NIMBY factor is also a big factor, as it probably often is in Seattle. So, no surprise that Esquimalt didn’t want the plant.

Speaking of managing overblown inappropriate projects, how’s Seattle’s Big Dig going?

Keith Sketchley, Saanich B.C.

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Comments | More in Environment | Topics: British Columbia, Christy Clark, Janet Riddell