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Sooke Councils Sewer System
Sooke News Mirror Editorial, July 4 2001
Sooke’s mayor and council deserve a badge of courage for their ‘initiative.’
They are about to, pending approval of a $16.5-million infrastructure grant, ask 1,530 property owners to fork over an additional $600 or more annually over 20 years to pay for a sewer system. That is a considerable tax hike.
Is it worth it? That depends on the view, and the pocketbook, of each individual property owner.
It seems almost appalling that here we are, a community looking to tourism as an economic generator, and yet we aren’t even able to offer visitors (or even residents for that matter) a laundromat for lack of a sewer system.
It also seems unlikely that future Sooke governments and administrators will be able to stop urban sprawl if land currently needed for septic fields within the village core area is not freed up and made available for higher density development.
We all also know that septic fields don’t last forever, and forever is even shorter in Sooke due to unforgiving soil conditions. Sooner or later our fields will have to be replaced at considerable expense to property owners.
But are the rank and file residential property owners, many of whom make Sooke their home and commute to work because it is a relatively inexpensive place to live, prepared to see their annual tax bill climb from $1,400 to $2,000? Only time will tell. If all goes as planned property owners within the area to be serviced will discover exactly how much they will individually have to pay for sewer service and they will be given the opportunity to object. Surely the tax increase is large enough that property owners will take note and react accordingly.
Our mayor and councillors should be given credit for being courageous. They have put the sewer issue and the ensuing taxes before the public in their first term and allowed the public to react. The costs the district has arrived at are probably the most feasible that we will see. Other options being suggested, like in-ground effluent disposal and tertiary treatment, would push the price up.
If property owners find the cost palatable, the sewer system can move ahead. If they find the cost to be prohibitive, the community can move forward with other goals, whether spearheaded by our current elected officials remains to be seen.
But no one can say this lot never tried.