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Proper vote needed for expanded sewer project [in Sooke]
Sooke News Mirror Editorial
March 14, 2001.
Now that Sooke council has changed its mind about the number of properties the proposed sewer system will service, it ought to also change its mind and hold a proper referendum for the infrastructure project.
The number of property owners who will foot the bill for the project has been bumped from 610 to over 1,500. That represents about a quarter of the 6,000 parcels that exist in the municipality.
It now seems to be increasingly unfair for Sooke council members to steamroll ahead with a $24-million infrastructure project, unless over 750 property owners formally petition the district.
During the campaign leading up to the Nov. 20, 1999 election not one of our elected council members stated outright that one of their priorities would be install sewers during their term in office — let alone connect sewers to half the properties within the municipality.
Even if they had, which they didn’t, and they had won a seat at the council table, they still wouldn’t have a clear mandate to proceed in the direction they seem determined to take.
Let’s not forget Mayor Ed Macgregor only received 1,954 votes; councillor John Farmer garnered 1,894 votes; Lorna Barry 1,474; Jeff Stewart 1,253; Janet Evans 1,095; Marcus Farmer 1,060; and Ron Dumont got 1,018 in the election. These are ballots cast by eligible voters, basically everyone residing within the district over the age of 18 — not nearly all of whom own property.
Legally our elected officials can still declare the sewer project a "council initiative" and proceed. But what about morally?
We happen to believe that a sewage system will enhance the community. But we also believe it only makes sense to have community support before embarking on a project of this magnitude, particularly at this stage of our young municipality’s existence.
The seven elected members of Sooke’s council unanimously believe sewers are a good thing. So what have they to fear by holding a proper vote on the issue?
Instead they are allowing the debate to transcend the pros and cons of installing a sewer system. The debate now includes the political process — and that can only be damaging to this community’s short- and long-term well-being, regardless of whether the initiaitive proceeds or fails.
Hold a proper referendum, settle the issue, and get on with it.
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