Yesterday, Powell River, BC, announced that its design for a new wastewater treatment facility is almost complete. The final two decisions—the conveyance route from Westview and the exterior design of the facility itself—will be decided on by City of Powell River Council in the coming weeks.

At the Committee of the Whole meeting on April 17th, city staff put forward two options for the conveyance route from Westview to the new facility.

City Director of Infrastructure Tor Birtig said Willingdon Beach Trail is looking like the preferred route based on cost. “Following the trail will be significantly more affordable operationally than following the highway, due to the significant pumping equipment and process needed to get wastewater up and over the hill,” said Birtig.

Several residents have expressed concern over using Willingdon Beach Trail for the route, fearing it could alter the popular and well-used trail. However, “the trail will be restored to its original condition after installing the pipe,” said lead engineer for the project, Tom Robinson, of Associated Engineering. “We understand the importance of protecting and preserving the Willingdon Beach Trail. We have studied the proposed route with a design objective of not causing any significant disturbance to trees and root systems.” Robinson’s team includes a professional arborist.

Where the pipeline can be installed by trenching, the width of the trench will be only 0.75 metres. Directional drilling is also an option where necessary to avoid impacting tree roots. Two Environmental Impact Studies (EIS) are being undertaken for the project. The Receiving Environment EIS is focused on the discharge to the marine environment. A separate EIS is considering the construction impacts, including stream assessments along the Willingdon Beach Trail and at the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) site, is also underway.

An archaeological study of known and undocumented archaeological and heritage sites within the project area is also nearly completed. Preliminary results of the archaeological survey found new archaeological sites and improved documentation of existing sites. “No adverse impacts are anticipated to archaeological or cultural sites along the Willingdon Beach Trail, or at the proposed consolidated WWTP site,” said archaeologist Colleen Parsley, of Aquilla Archaeology. “Our work for the City has increased the knowledge about the ancient cultural use of these areas. Our goal is to protect these areas and work to avoid them in projects such as this.”

Council will decide on the conveyance route at its May 3rd Council meeting.

Cover Image: Powell River, by Hameltion.

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