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

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Council makes right move in pulling back

Editorial in Sooke News Mirror on October 17, 2001

It likely wasn’t easy, but the Sooke Council made the right move Monday night when it decided to hold back on initiating the consent process for the proposed sewer system.

The council had, on Sept. 24, decided to start the process in the belief that a favorable outcome would help the chances of earning a grant. Council has applied for a $16 million federal/provincial infrastructure grant for the $24 million project.

But at the recent UBCM convention, council and staff learned from senior officers of the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services that a good response from the community probably wouldn’t add any weight to the grant request at all.

So council, on a staff recommendation from chief administrative officer Tom Day, decided to rescind its previous decision and wait until after notification of the grant.

While the action makes sense, the reasoning might be a little suspect.

Council needed to pull back to allow more time for the public to learn about the sewer process. It seemed like our community leaders were trying to rush through the process, even if that wasn’t what was intended. The public needs time to digest and mull over information and know that the grant is successful.

A project of this magnitude needs to be fully understood by the community, as with its tax increases and potential for development it could change the landscape and seascape of Sooke.

Because of that council should take another look at the consent process it has developed for the project and ensure it works for the community.

In order for the sewer project to be stopped affected property owners who represent more than 50 per cent of the assessed value of all affected properties have to register their dissent in writing.

While council did the right thing in deciding that forms to register dissent be sent to all affected property owners, one wonders if the community as a whole needs a chance to voice its feelings on the subject.

Sewers are definitely needed, but in bringing them here, Sooke needs to be careful not to alienate those who already live here.



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