As Area H Director and chair of the Regional District of Nanaimo board, politician Bill Veenhof knows he has to maintain a position of neutrality.
As a resident of Bowser, though, citizen Bill Veenhof is pretty jacked about the opportunity to get a new sewer system in the remote village north of Qualicum Beach.
Hope may spring eternal, but hope was all Bowser residents had before the federal and provincial governments jointly announced Friday that they were going to kick $7.5 million toward the proposed sewer project.
The total cost of the project, as indicated in the government announcement, is a shade over $9 million, so Bowser residents will still be asked to put some skin in the game.
But there’s no need for anyone to be fleeced.
The scale and cost of a community-wide project like a complete sewer system is, frankly, beyond the reach of rural communities like Bowser.
To have the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund step in and offer to pick up nearly 85 per cent of the tab is, as Veenhof described it, a real game-changer.
Citizen Veenhof envisions a completed sewer system allowing Bowser to move forward with other wish-list items in its Rural Village Plan, last amended in 2010.
It would allow for new development, a population increase, the option of offering affordable housing and more. Even, Veenhof dares suggest, getting a doctor in the community.
Politician Veenhof, meanwhile, remains pragmatic. While the potential cost of a new sewer just dropped precipitously, there remains a little matter of roughly $1.5 million to be laid at the feet of Bowser taxpayers.
And they will have their say. The RDN is in the process of establishing a schedule of public consultation meetings, as more details are determined and ready to share, and we expect Director Veenhof to get an earful from proponents and opponents alike.
Following those meetings, assuming the residents opt to move forward, a referendum is expected in which those on the hook for the balance of the expense will be asked if they’re in or out.
We encourage those voters only to keep the long view in mind, and consider their vision for the future of Bowser and the immediate area before making their decision.
As both Director Veenhof and Citizen Veenhof agree, funding offers like this don’t come along every day. And this one might not come again at all.
— Parksville Qualicum Beach News