The verdict is in.
The 400-person village of Carmacks is building a $5.5-million sewage treatment plant.
“It might mean that we don’t get to do as much in parks and we may have to shift some line items around on the budget,” said Carmacks mayor Elaine Wyatt this week.
“We may have to spend some of our comprehensive grant, which we don’t want to do, but if we have to we’ll do it.”
The chosen system — a membrane bioreactor — is described as “state of the art.”
It’s an automated process that’s enclosed in one building. It emits a “very high quality, low pathogenic effluent.”
Currently there are two such operating plants in western Canada.
“I have faith in the system, but it’s going to be more of a cost to operate and that’s just a fact of life,” said Wyatt.
Carmacks has been seeking a replacement for its existing 30-year-old facility for almost 10 years.
For months, the membrane bioreactor facility has been the preferred option.
But this month the Yukon government distributed a flyer to houses around the village citing the merits of a cheaper option — an aerated sewage lagoon.
It would have cost $3 million in capital and about $45,000 per year to run.
With the large difference in cost, the Carmacks mayor felt it was necessary to take the decision to the village, said Wyatt.
But nobody wanted the lagoon, especially on that site.
The lagoon would “destroy the beauty and character of our community,” according to a letter circulated by one concerned citizen, who wished to remain anonymous.
“There is an almost automatic negative perception about lagoons caused by fears around smells. In reality, the aeration process eliminates all strong odours; any mild odours are limited to the immediate pond,” said Wyatt.
In a door-to-door survey of nearly 90 per cent of 127 residents on the voters’ list in Carmacks, 64 per cent favoured the membrane system.
Fifty-nine per cent said they’d be willing to spend more on the operation and maintenance costs of the facility.
The membrane bioreactor facility costs $5.5 million to build and about $120,000 per year to run.
The current system costs the village $60,000 a year. It services 65 houses and businesses in downtown Carmacks.
Ottawa and the territory have guaranteed the village $5.5 million in capital funding for the project.
According to the contribution agreement, Carmacks is on the hook for 10 per cent of the initial cost to a maximum of $500,000.
The village has already contributed $120,000.
Carmacks is also responsible for the facility’s operation and maintenance costs.
The mayor and council will meet at the beginning of June to pass a resolution to adopt the new technology.
This week, Wyatt scheduled a meeting with Community Services Minister Glenn Hart to discuss the project.