Sewer process needs to move along to a vote
Editorial in Sooke News Mirror September 10, 2003
The Sooke council has set up the community for a chance at an early Christmas present. On Monday night the district's governing body tentatively approved a timetable that would have the long-talked about sewer system referendum held on Dec. 13. Some councillors wondered if the timetable was a little too ambitious. Their major concerns were linked to outfall/treatment options and public information.
Some in the community still wonder if tertiary rather than secondary treatment is an option as well as whether a disposal system other than an ocean outfall is a possibility. They are right in their stated goal of trying to help Sooke achieve the best system possible. However, the system proposed appears to be the best that can be achieved economically at this time. A technical report completed by Stantec Engineering in 2001 shows the estimated capital cost of an outfall into the Strait of Juan de Fuca being $1.2 million while the cost of disposal land would be about $6.8 million.
Sooke has been fortunate to receive an $11.6 million grant for the proposed $17.4 million project. While it is a lot of money, the grant provided through the Canada-B.C. Infrastructure program is not enough to cover the cost of tertiary treatment and/or another outfall method. This cost would have to be born by the taxpayer and some are already concerned the estimated $650 annual fee and the as yet unknown cost of hook-up could hurt them financially. It is important to keep in mind the treatment option proposed meets all of the necessary guidelines.
Some councillors also were concerned about the public having enough time to receive the information they require on the project. This is a truly valid concern. Those in the service area, mainly the downtown core and areas such as the Broom Hill subdivision, need to fully understand what is being proposed. The district has tentatively slated a committee of the whole meeting for Oct. 20 to discuss issues and a public open house Nov. 3 as well as an evening meeting with technical experts Nov. 4. A yet to be defined public information process is set for Nov. 17 to Dec. 12. Those in the service area also need to take it upon themselves to seek out information and to have their questions answered.
Yes, the timetable, which can be deviated from, might seem to be fast, but thank goodness. After years of talking and waiting for the grant money to come, now is the time to act.