Demand referendum on sewage treatment

Oak Bay residents should have a say in how our tax dollars should be spent on mega projects such as the Uplands sewer separation project

It is time that all the residents of Oak Bay have a say in how our tax dollars should be spent on mega projects such as the Uplands sewer separation project (separation of the storm water and domestic sewer).

In January 2010 council voted against proceeding with the Low Pressure System (LPS) as a result of lobbying by some Uplands residents against a LPS costing $7.6 million which was recommended by municipal staff and the highly respected engineering firm hired by the municipality.

This resulted in Oak Bay losing approved  federal and provincial grants of $5.1 million.  A duel Gravity System, which the Uplands residents preferred would have cost Oak Bay taxpayers $30.7 million or an average of about $400 additional taxes per year.

I have been advised by the municipality that the mayor will likely be asking the province and CRD for an extension to the time by which the separation has to be completed.

Also, l am told that the separation project will be a Gravity System and no consideration will be given to a LPS. This being the case, the cost to Oak Bay taxpayers could be $40 plus million. Combined  with the sewage treatment project, which is another Blue Bridge, if it ever happens, could increase current taxes by an average of $1,200 or more per year.

Should this project proceed as planned, it will contribute to this community becoming unaffordable for many residents.

Prior to the Nov. 15 election, taxpayers should be asking the candidates, particularly those who were on council in 2010 and voted for rejecting the LPS, for an explanation and for their position on this very important issue.

Taxpayers should demand a referendum on whether they prefer a Low Pressure System at a cost of likely $10 million or a $40-plus million Gravity System demanded by the Uplands residents.

Something to consider is that only six per cent of Oak Bay households are in Uplands and of those  one-third do not require separation.

Claire Eraut

Oak Bay