It won’t be long before the heavy machinery moves in along with the demo crew.
What took half a century to build will be dismantled in months.
What was once a beehive of activity, providing well-paying jobs for more than 1,000 people in this community, will be gone forever.
Gone, just like the big sawmill that once sat beside the Elk Falls pulp and paper mill. The other big sawmill just down the highway is also long-gone too.
It’s the humbling reality of today’s global era that Campbell River’s former industrial economy is obliterated with cranes, backhoes, jackhammers and sledgehammers.
The demolition crews make their money and then move on to the next town to get rid of another “dinosaur.”
I never thought this would happen, though, to the mill at Elk Falls. In the mid-1990s I toured the operation and its newly-installed infrastructure: An effluent treatment plant.
That, I wrongly believed, would give this mill a leg up on other aging mills along our coast. Better still, the owners of the day built the facility large enough to accommodate all of the city’s sewage too.
But then the plan hit a snag, namely the provincial environment ministry. In a nutshell, the ministry needed to know exactly who was pumping chlorine into Discovery Passage, and how much.
I’m no scientist, but it seemed to me that if the city’s outfall was measured for a year, along with the mill’s, you would have a pretty good idea of who’s contributing what to the effluent. And, if there happened to be a significant spike in chlorine output, the obvious culprit would be the mill, not some home-keeper dumping too much bleach into the wash.
But what do I know?
In the end, the mill built its treatment plant because it had to and Campbell River spent tens of millions building its own treatment plant right across the street.
I figure with the two plants operating, we could treat sewage for a community of more than 100,000 people.
So that got me thinking, why couldn’t sewage from other communities be shipped to Campbell River in a tanker, docked at Elk Falls, and then pumped through the treatment facility?
You think Victoria might consider such an option rather spending more more than a billion dollars for its own treatment plant?
I’m sure the regular group of naysayers would, pardon the pun, pooh-pooh such an idea, but there are far worse things shipped through Discovery Passage every day.
Treating sewage properly is certainly less irksome than a pole-peeling plant and, most importantly, it’s guaranteed income…forever.