Residents in Sooke are concerned about the imminent tax hikes to pay for the new sewer system.
Sooke 2003 Budget [and Sewers]Sooke News Mirror, February 19, 2003
It might be a different Sooke council, but sewers still remain a priority, according to the districtís 2003 strategic plan.
Sewers are mentioned in four of the 22 items in the document and one could argue are an unwritten component of two more.
"I think sewers are still our first priority as far as major infrastructure requirements for our community," Mayor Ed Macgregor said in a Tuesday morning interview.
Following last Novemberís municipal election, when Macgregor and four councillors successfully were re-elected, the mayor said he felt the community had endorsed the direction Sooke was heading in regards to sewers. However, newcomers Tom Morino and George OBriain questioned this assessment as they had expressed concerns about the proposed sewer system during their campaigns.
Morino, a lawyer, was in court Tuesday and could not be reached by the News Mirrorís deadlines. But the day after the election he told the News Mirror, "I will be fighting at every opportunity I have within the rules of decorum to put my point forth that sewers are wrong."
OBriain said he feels the goals that include sewer references in the strategic plan are certainly worthy, even though he is against the idea of an ocean outfall. OBriain feels there is a better way to handle the communityís sewage and feels more debate is needed to come up with a system that is affordable and takes advantage of cutting edge technology.
"I think we can better it and I think we can better the cost of it," OBriain said, alluding to the $17.5 million price tag.
The strategic plan came out of a series of council strategic planning meetings and sets out councilís goal for the next year or so. The plan is one of the first steps of the budgeting process and before the budget is adopted in May council will attempt to fund what it feels are the most important priorities.
The word "sewer" pops up in the following items in the strategic plan: sewers for core area, Liquid Waste Management Plan, multi-level care and assisted living facility and harbour boardwalk, with the idea of doing work on the project in conjunction with the installation of a sewer. An argument could also be made that sewers are part of downtown revitalization and economic development.
"Many things we want to see and the long-term care facility is probably the best example are not going to happen until we get a sewer system," Macgregor said, alluding to how the right site for a care facility that has appropriate soil for a septic system hasnít been found.
But OBriain feels those goals can be accomplished once the Liquid Waste Management Plan helps identify how to deal with sewage for the entire area and not just downtown core and Broomhill that the proposed sewer system is for.
Sooke is still awaiting news regarding its application for a Canada-B.C. Infrastructure program grant. The grant would allow the sharing of the projectís eligible costs between the municipal, provincial and federal governments. There has been some talk of an infrastructure program with just federal and municipal cost sharing, which would provide another option to Sooke, but nothing definite has been announced yet.