By Bobbi-Sue Menard – Lake Country Calendar, June 27, 2012
How to integrate housing development with existing waste water infrastructure in Oyama is an ongoing concern.
It was before District of Lake Country council again at last Tuesday’s meeting when a non-farm use application for existing Agricultural Land Reserve property on Greenhow Road in Oyama was brought forward to begin the process of turning the desired land into an effluent percolation area.
The proposal was nixed by council in a 6-1 vote for several reasons. The conundrum for the developer remains—how to effectively develop financially viable housing in Oyama in light of current waste water infrastructure.
Councilors brought up several lines of objection to the proposed site which is currently used as a horse pasture. The first was that the site is currently in the ALR, and turning it into an effluent field would permanently remove the land farm from production, an idea which runs counter to the stated district principle of retaining farmland where possible.
In line with this thinking, the district’s agriculture committee had opposed the proposal on the same basis.
Another point of disagreement with the proposal was put forward by Coun. Owen Dickie who said at the meeting: “We should not be putting high volume septic fields in residential areas.”
That sentiment was echoed by neighbours of the site.
Area resident Ted Grimwood spoke in opposition to the proposal, saying “the position of the field is not fair to people who live in that area. Surely the council can find other alternatives.”
Local resident Peter Withers pointed out that the site could have long term benefits to the overall development of Oyama. “We need more homes for families in Oyama.”
Wither explained the difference between effluent and sludge, saying effluent treatment is, “used all over the world.”
In a phone conversation after the council meeting, Dickie reiterated several other problems with the site including the clay band ‘capping’ the site and the known history of septic field failures at the site in the past.
Dickie acknowledged the Oyama treatment plant has the capacity to service more homes.
The plant has a designed capacity for about 57 residential houses, but its current septic field is only able to handle 26 homes.
Should a suitable site for a septic field be found, the plant could operate at optimal capacity. As it is now, nearby residents occasionally get a whiff of unpleasantness.
District staff explained the occasional odours were a function of not enough volume of waste at the plant.
The question becomes where to locate a septic field for effluent in Oyama to utilize the existing plant capacity.
“I don’t know what the alternatives that can facilitate the site are,” said Dickie. “That is something that requires engineering. But we are looking for something that is reasonable, managed and cannot compromise the lifestyle of existing home owners. We are looking for a cooperative approach to solve the issues of an absorption field.”
Waste water has always been an issue in Oyama, Dickie said, and the problem will have to be solved with smaller disposal fields as a main trunk disposal pipeline is cost prohibitive.
“Developers are going to have to work hard to dispose of waste in a way that isn’t in conflict with existing neighbourhoods.”