Among the items dealt with by the Westside Wastewater Treatment and Resource Recovery Select Committee at its Tuesday meeting was a letter from Langford Mayor Stew Young that emphasized his concern over the push to find a new site.
Young wrote, “… more time is required to ensure a proper technical analysis in undertaken of all the sites being considered for the treatment plant(s) and to receive the appropriate public input related to the project.”
In a follow up interview, the mayor reiterated his thoughts on the issue.
“This will be a problem and it won’t go away,” he said.
Young suggested that the committee go to the project’s government funders and admit having made mistakes in the past. He wants the province and federal governments to recognize the region is undertaking a new process to achieving the mandated sewage treatment and that it will take a little more time to do it right.
“A good common sense argument will win …,” he said. “They want their money spent right.”
Young worries that if the committees rush the current process, there could be a repeat of the McLoughlin Point rejection, which essentially ground the project to a halt.
He adds there’s no option for failure this time around.
He sees the recent rejection of a potential site on Watkiss Way by Saanich council, before it received a technical analysis, as an example of how individual municipalities can interfere with the process.
“Politicians have now taken that out of the public process,” he said, adding that the site is now a missing piece to the puzzle that might have worked in a combination of sites. But the public will never be given that option, he said. “The public needs to be aware of the whole process.”
He fears that a “not in my backyard attitude,” combined with political interference, will lead to another rejection.
“Who says you pick a site and the public is going to support it?
“It’s very confusing to me and it’s very confusing to the public when they feel like they’re not getting part of the story. They’ve almost made it so there’s no other choice.”