Sewer treatment plant upgrades are on the way

City of Revelstoke Director of Infrastructure and Planning Steve Black said he’s hoping to see construction starting as quickly as possible

Stock photo: Scott Rodgerson/Unsplash

This article first appeared in print in the June 2023 issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.


Work to upgrade Revelstoke’s sewage treatment plant should get underway soon.

City of Revelstoke Director of Infrastructure and Planning, Steve Black said he’s hoping to see the contract awarded within the next 60 to 90 days, and for construction to begin as quickly as possible.

“Improvements are coming, it’s underway …. Hopefully by the end of next year the plant will be updated and operationally in compliance with regulations,” said Black, noting the city had plans to meet with the province and the preferred design build team the week of May 22 to ensure all the necessary approvals (including environmental), were in place and that the contractor is able to work within the approved $15 million budget.

Black said the city has been aware of the foul-smell emitting from the sewage treatment lagoon for years. 

(The Mountaineer has published numerous stories about the sewer treatment plant over the years. If you’d like a more in-depth look, visit and type “sewer treatment plant” into the search field located at the top right-hand side of the page.)

“The cost of making improvements to a wastewater treatment plant are significant. In order to get to a place where the city is in a position to pursue those improvements, we had to complete a liquid waste management plan.”

The liquid waste management plan was adopted by council last year and outlines what actions the city will take to improve the situation and ensure the effluent that comes out of the plant into the Illecillewaet River meets with current federal and provincial guidelines. 

Parallel to the adoption of the liquid waste management plan, the city applied for grant funding and was successful in securing close to $10 million for the project. The remainder of the money will come via a loan authorization bylaw of up to $7 million, which council approved in 2022.

“We didn’t put money aside into a reserve fund. So, we have to borrow and that’s quite common in all municipal governments – borrowing money to do something you didn’t plan,” said Black.

When city staff took the liquid waste management plan to council it included a cost estimate of approximately $14 million for the sewer treatment plan upgrades. With the grant for $10 million secured, Black said staff chose to go to the city with the assumption they may need to borrow up to $7 million due to increased costs and supply chain issues during COVID. However, Black also said the city is trying to work within, or as close as possible to, the project within budget.

Black said not only will the sewer plant comply with provincial and federal regulations once its updated, but the city will be in a better situation to anticipate future situations and have the capacity to meet the requirements of the community as it continues to grow. That growth trajectory is based on the Official Community Plan (OCP) update.

The plan also encompasses the possibility of neighbourhoods (for example, lower Arrow Heights) currently on septic wanting to get on to the city’s sewer system via a local area service. In this case, Black said specific neighbourhoods petition to the city to be added on to the sewer system. The residents of that neighbourhood are responsible for covering the costs of the engineering, design, and construction, meaning there is no cost downloaded to the average taxpayer.

“So, it’s all tied together. I don’t get to do something on my own, making my own population assumption. I have this guiding document that provides those tools to get us to that scenario,” said Black. “Once we get through this process, we’ll probably be good for another 20 years, and at the same time after we grow to that level, there’ll probably be another level of improvements required for discharge and we’ll have to continue to make improvements to the plant in the long term, but at least we’ll be able to budget for it properly and not have to have massive tax increases or utility increases to fund it, because now we’re looking at the big picture. We’re looking at the future and how to do these things sequentially with thought, with logic, and managing the cost.”

Repairs, replacement of existing sewer pipes also planned

In addition to the work being done to upgrade the sewer treatment plant, city staff are also working to make repairs, or replacements if necessary, to the city’s extensive 140-kilometre underground sewer pipe system. 

“A lot of [the pipes for the sewer system] was built back 80, 90 years ago and we haven’t been doing our due diligence to make sure it’s all in good shape. Council’s given us the authority and the money to do that and make sure we’ve got a good solid sanitary sewer system,” said Black.

Part of that due diligence work has included replacing sections of pipe along Downie Street. This includes replacing approximately 12 km of pipe along Downie, from Olynyk Street to Eighth Street. Black said the sewer pipe along Downie is one of the larger pipes in the community, serving most of downtown.

“That pipe has some issues with it and so we’re replacing all of it,” said Black.

Melissa Jameson is the civic affairs reporter for the Revelstoke Mountaineer. She handles the newsy side of goings on about Revelstoke. Got a news tip? Feel free to contact Melissa at