Residents in Sooke are concerned about the imminent tax hikes to pay for the new sewer system.

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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 Public Meeting

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.

[Click here to view the executive summary of the WRATH brief.]

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."

The Farmers

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.

WRATH Commentary
  • WRATH believes that the process is flawed.

  • Mayor Ed promised a referendum on this $25 million dollar question, which started out as a $16 million dollar question, and reneged on this promise.
    Mayor Ed stated that the sewer system proposal has the support of the Sooke Community, but there has not been a referendum. Mayor Ed will say almost anything. Last night at the Committee of the Whole Meeting on April 24, he introduced Judy Burke and Gail Hall to Ben Marr as members of his "adoring public". A direct quote. Like I said, Ed will say anything, professional or otherwise as demonstrated by Ed's excessive swearing at the land use meeting on the evening of April 25th.

  • Sooke Administrator Tom Day, with the blessing of Mayor and Council, adivsed at the Monday night council meeting on April 23, that they intend to artificially inflate the operating and managing costs of the sewer system to recoup additional taxes from the local schools. Journey Middle School included. Our local schools will have to bear high energy costs, which were not in their original budgets. It is unfair for the District of Sooke to artifically inflate sewer operating and managing costs, just to hit the schools with higher taxes. Tom Day, says "So What! It's legal."

  • Officially, according to the motions made at the meetings, all residents of Sooke will still have to bear a portion of the oversize components of the sewer system. This motion has never been formally rescinded. There has only been a verbal comment made at the Open House, that the the cost of the oversize components (like big connectors for future expansion of the sewer system) will be paid for by the property owners in the sewer area. So, legally, all of us still have to pay a portion of the capital costs for the oversize components. An oversight by the Mayor and Council and administrator? Incompetence perhaps? It is obvious they don't know what they are doing.

  • As for the technical reports, the D.Bright report, was by his own admission, a quick and dirty desktop look at the situation. The report is flawed, and we discuss this in detail in our State of the Environment Report.

  • The imminent tax increases in the Sooke Budget, are due to significant errors and omissions made by the consultant, which prepared the incorporation study who was Stantec Consulting. Stantec Consulting is also preparing the estimates for the sewer study system. The Mayor and the District is ultimately responsible for the work done by the consultant. So, what is different this time? Mayor Ed and Tom Day now have $25 million dollars to 'err with. Why hasn't Ed learned from his last mistakes? Why would he use the same consultant? Yes, they are responsible, but we are the ones who will pay.



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