Residents in Sooke are concerned about the imminent tax hikes to pay for the new sewer system.
Let's Hope that Sooke Council has Done it's Homework
Let's hope for the sake of future economic prosperity and urban containment that Sooke council's mad dash to take advantage of $11 million in federal and provincial infrastructure money doesn't blow up in all our faces. It quite easily could.
The rush to the front of the $800 million hand out seems to have precluded proper planning and community process. Instead council has, in taking on what will likely be the municipality's largest capital project ever, places its entire stock on the findings and opinions of a consultant conducting a $40,000 sewage study. [This consultant also designs, builds and maintains sewage systems - the report is biased.]
Sooke's village core needs to be sewered. [Says who?] But council must be sure that it will be properly sewered before it contemplates spending multi millions of taxpayers dollars.
No one expected our community to have a sewage system up and running during our inaugural council's first term in office, let alone within the second year of its first mandate.
Few would be truly disappointed if the process was slowed down to accommodate the comfort of a comprehensive Liquid Waste management Plan, as prescribed in the province's Waste Management Act and recommended by the BC Ministry of Environment, would afford. Instead of embarking on this multi-faceted plan, council has charge forward with system component recommendations and cost estimates arrived at by a single consultant. Diverse technical expertise and opinion is scant. Despite promises to the contrary, community input has been almost non-existent.
Equally disturbing is that the Sooke Incorporation and Restructure Committee's forecasted budgetary surplus after 12 years is being downgraded from about $1.8 million to $350-$500,000. That really doesn't seem to leave much room for any future unforeseen circumstances that might arise from a project of this magnitude.
If the district's grant application fails, after it has taken an end run around good planning and the public, all Sooke council will loose is its credibility.
If it succeeds, and it turns out that improper estimates have been made in relation to the project's components or its financing, we could all lose much more.
Let's hope, for the sake of us all, that the district has done its homework properly, because they certainly haven't taken the time to bring it to the public and have it double checked.