Opinion

EDITORIAL: Public opinion triumphs on sewage project

Directors and staff at the Capital Regional District are left with their heads spinning this week after B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak officially refused to force the construction of a wastewater treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt.

Polak’s choice was relatively straightforward: side with the autonomy of a local government or face a backlash of exasperated Capital Region residents.

The CRD wasted no time after Polak’s announcement to wave the white flag, conceding it would abandon all hope of developing the site and suggesting the near two-thirds funding from the province and federal government is now at risk.

Indeed, the future of the Seaterra program itself is now in question, and its fate could be decided at a June 11 CRD board meeting.

But the tipping point has been a long time coming. Greater Victoria residents are upset for good reason: the necessity of community buy-in for this project continues to be little more than an afterthought.

Of course, directors and staff wasted no time establishing an appointed commission and program director to implement the $788-million program, citing a need to move quickly to avoid cost overruns.

Yet it’s exactly this sort of frantic pace that compelled the CRD to sink $17 million into an industrial site on Viewfield Road, only to be left as hesitant landlord when nearby residents understandably felt duped at the prospect of a biosolids plant in their backyard.

The panic to push through rezoning at McLoughlin Point now means hundreds of staff hours were wasted, and we’ve yet to see what fines could be levelled against the CRD when the successful bidder reads the fine print on their contract.

Perhaps the elation felt by many from the meaningful outcome of their participation in public hearings will lapse into cynicism by next week. But as Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said, at least for today, many in the Capital Region are breathing a collective sigh of relief for a project they thought was long past their influence.

This editorial appeared in the May 30 edition of the Victoria News.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

A GOOD READ: Check out great business books of 2014
 
13 British Columbian-ish Things To Do for Canada Day for 2013
 
SPOTLIGHT: Lotto winner to pay off her mortgage
Fraser hospitals screening for ebola, will isolate any victims in Surrey
 
Plans for Larco land get go ahead
 
Enriching reunion
Residents lighting up for Xmas
 
White Rock allocates $20,000 for rail-move advice
 
New disc golf course opens this weekend