News / Ottawa

Raw deal for Mooney's Bay sewage problems, Brockington says

City staff have excluded plans for a much-needed wastewater upgrade at Mooney's Bay because it can't be done inside the federal government's funding timelines.

Public washrooms at Mooney's Bay park have to be shut down during large events like the Hope Volleyball festival, because the wastewater system can't handle the demand.

Louis Young/Hope Volleyball Ottawa

Public washrooms at Mooney's Bay park have to be shut down during large events like the Hope Volleyball festival, because the wastewater system can't handle the demand.

The chance to finally flush out Mooney’s Bay’s bathroom issues may be going down the drain.

River ward Coun. Riley Brockington complained at environment committee Tuesday that the park pavilion’s “antiquated” wastewater system wasn’t included on the city’s list of 41 priority water and sewer projects to be submitted for federal and provincial funding this month.

Toilets at the pavilion, which houses the privately-run Baja Grill as well as city-owned public washrooms, can’t keep up with demand during busy beach days and major festivals.

Getting water to the pavilion is easy – it runs downhill – but it’s incredibly energy-intensive to pump wastewater back up to the main line on Riverside Drive, Brockington said.

Often, during events like the Dragon Boat Festival or Hope Beach Volleyball, the washrooms must be closed entirely.

The issue has been known for years, yet the $1-million project didn’t make the list while more than $3 million in lighting upgrades did, Brockington said.

“I have a big issue when we say lighting system upgrades in water plants or other facilities take greater priority over providing washroom access at one of the city’s largest parks,” Brockington told staff.  “A city facility should be able to provide basic services.”

Through the federal Clean Water and Wastewater Fund, Ottawa is eligible for about $69 million in federal and provincial funding, covering 75 per cent of project costs. The city would be on the hook for the remaining 25 per cent, about $23 million.

But a main facet of the program is that submitted projects must be completed, at the very latest, by March 2019. The Mooney’s Bay project isn’t there yet, said city asset manager Kelly Martin, who couldn't be reached for further comment Tuesday.

Brockington said staff should have worked harder to get the project ready so it could take advantage of the “once-in-a-generation” funding.

“The city knew that if the Liberal government was elected there would be … funding,” Brockington said. “I’m just disappointed that we knew this was coming and we weren’t ready for it.”

Brockington asked staff to identify the list’s lowest $2 million in priorities before council decides Oct. 26. He’s contemplating an amendment to try and add Mooney’s Bay to the list.

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