Editorial: Local issue goes national

All six candidates in the Nov. 26 Victoria federal byelection have offered their thoughts on sewage treatment for the Capital Region.

All six candidates in the Nov. 26 Victoria federal byelection have offered their thoughts on sewage treatment for the Capital Region, in one forum or another in recent weeks.

If you missed hearing it in person, you can read their views on the issue on this newspaper’s website or printed in our candidate survey (page A10).

It’s not surprising that all of the candidates have hitched their campaign wagons to the do-it-now or wait-till-it-gets-bad camps on sewage treatment. It’s an acknowledgement by would-be MPs and their promoters that public awareness on the issue is as high as it has been since pro-treatment character Mr. Floatie achieved international notoriety.

A cynic might say those trying to gain office are simply taking advantage of the momentum being built by local politicians who question the logic of building a nearly $800-million facility, rather than holding off until damage to the marine environment becomes significant.

On the other hand, an optimist – one who also questions the decision to spend that kind of money on secondary treatment – might say it’s a good thing if a broader light can be shed on the marine science that has seemingly been ignored in this whole affair.

Five years ago, we encouraged all affected levels of government to give the science a more thorough evaluation. We continue to hold the view that research on the impact to the marine environment is incomplete.

With party leaders and other influential MPs campaigning with Victoria byelection candidates the past couple of weeks – all but Green leader Elizabeth May are from back east – we hope the whys of sewage treatment gain a higher profile in Ottawa in the near future.

That may not prompt the Conservative government to rethink its ban on dumping untreated sewage into the ocean, but it may buy cash-strapped Capital Region residents some time before we have to start shelling out for a treatment facility.