Residents in Sooke are concerned about the imminent tax hikes to pay for the new sewer system.
WRATH asks grant program administrator to deny Sooke’s sewer grant application
By Nikki Lewers for the Sooke News Mirror on April 25, 2001
Sooke’s Worried Residents Against Tax Hikes ratepayers’ group has asked the Canada-British Columbia Infrastructure Program to deny the District of Sooke’s application to cost-share in a $24-million sewer project for the community.
WRATH spokesperson George Butcher made the announcement Thursday during a public meeting at the Sooke Community Hall. Approximately 78 people attended the meeting.
The group sent a 20-page brief, accompanied by 40 pages of supporting material to Paul Kluckner, the Environment Canada official who administers the program. The brief was researched and written by Sooke residents, according to a WRATH news release.
According to the report’s executive summary, the review covers a variety of topics including: public opinion is against the proposed project, a flawed process was followed, proposal is contrary to OCP and LAP, the purpose is to promote growth, the need is not there, economic harm to the community, proposal discards existing good systems, no authorization in place, and project information incomplete.
Sooke Mayor Ed Macgregor said the group has ignored the technical reports council had commissioned without any real debate. He said nobody has disputed the soil condition report or the fact there is contamination in the harbour and basin. Macgregor noted the Bright report which concluded there was a very high probability that contamination in the harbour and basin was from septage. "His definition of failed was somewhat broader in terms of the fact that if you have poor soil conditions and if you have a system that functions reasonably well at certain times of the year if the soil becomes overloaded you’re going to get migration in the water table down at the harbour and basin anyhow."
As for the consent process, Macgregor said the issue has been addressed. "People who are in the specified area are going to have an opportunity to say yes or no. They’re not going to make those kinds of decisions until they are able to know what the costs are and what the implications are to them individually." Macgregor said residents have had many opportunities to ask questions or provide input on the sewer issue through open houses, council and sewer committee meetings.
WRATH took issue with a statement by Mayor Macgregor in a letter supporting the application, that it had the ‘support of the community’, according to the press release.
But Macgregor questioned Wrath’s support base. "I think it’s really unfortunate that they have taken this action of sending a brief into the infrastructure people as though there was a broad base of support for this type of thing. I don’t think they can demonstrate that at all," Macgregor said. "I think there will be a lot of people in Sooke that will be quite upset about the fact that this group of people were presumptuous enough to speak on their behalf when they haven’t even made any decisions themselves."
WRATH also elected its first slate of directors which includes: George Butcher, George OBriain, John Arnett, Gail Hall, and Judith Burke.