Sewage project critical to Oak Bay

Let’s not get saddled with an inappropriate and unnecessarily expensive solution

A critical issue in Oak Bay’s Nov. 15 municipal election is the Capital Regional District’s controversial and stalled sewage treatment project.  While I commend all members of council for their service and all candidates for their willingness to serve, the fact that a majority of them do not address this issue on their Facebook page or websites makes me wonder if they think not saying anything will make the issue go away.

To their credit, the four candidates who speak to the issue on their sites are Hazel Braithwaite, Tom Croft, Sigurd Johannesen and Kevin Murdoch.

Braithwaite is “of the opinion that there is not enough scientific justification to move ahead with this project.”  Croft is “satisfied that the current regional plan is the best alternative…”  Johannesen is of like mind and says “It is time we moved on… to meet [federal and provincial] deadlines…”  Murdoch also supports “a centralized treatment facility”, but only “if [it is decided] we are going to move forward.”

He maintains “our representatives at the CRD have failed to advocate effectively with the federal and provincial governments to seek specific regulation for our specific receiving environment… It may still be possible to seek some relief from the regulations, but is now unlikely since it wasn’t dealt with early.”

In my view all reasonable efforts should be made to seek such relief.  Not only is close to $1 billion on the line, but the current proposed solution will produce a variety of land and air problems and pollutants in exchange for questionable marine benefits.

Yes, we need to address marine contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, but I’m one of those who thinks human waste is less of a problem given the cleansing power of “our specific receiving environment.”  As Murdoch points out, with relatively minor upgrades “Our current system… would actually meet special exemption standards set in the U.S. and much of Europe for similar receiving environments.”

Let’s not let non-involvement or exhaustion or undue fear of deadlines saddle us with an inappropriate and unnecessarily expensive “solution” that will increase greenhouses gas emissions and contribute to global climate change.  Let’s get it right.  Let’s elect savvy, pro-active councillors dedicated to revisiting this issue with the Capital Regional District and engaging the federal and provincial governments for specific regulation for our specific receiving environment – just as is permitted by a number of other jurisdictions around the world.

Patrick Wolfe

Oak Bay