EDITORIAL: Business acumen could have helped

Committee members outraged by overview of the CRD's sewage treatment project

A group of people with good business sense gathered in a meeting room at Royal Colwood Golf Club this week to hear an overview on the Capital Regional District’s sewage treatment project.

This endeavour has been the subject of much derision, head-scratching and frustration over the years, as the CRD, and its member municipalities that don’t already treat their sewage, work to find a solution that will satisfy provincial and federal regulations.

Making direct and specific presentations to the business community is a step that, according to Westside Solutions co-chairs Carol Hamilton and Barb Desjardins, hasn’t been done enough during the whole process.

So, it wasn’t all that surprising to hear West Shore Chamber of Commerce president Doug Kobayashi, one of the friendlier people one could find in our area, use the term “outraged” when he and others in the room were asked for their comments on the state of the project or the details therein.

Consultants Urban Systems, hired to do the feasibility and costing analysis for the project, and Carrollo Associates, an engineering firm specializing in water and wastewater planning have been busy working on providing what the CRD has asked them for. Unfortunately, that hasn’t necessarily involved seeking out advice from the private sector on how to do a public-sector project like this one.

Urban Systems’ Chris Town, who gave the technical presentation Tuesday, admitted afterward there are an “infinite” number of ways to achieve the level of sewage treatment required under the provincial and federal guidelines. And he seemed open to some of the new ideas tossed out by local business people.

Many of the politicians making the ultimate decision on how to spend taxpayers’ money on treatment are not businesspeople. While many in that category are accustomed to asking for advice from people who are in business or management, it would have made sense for the CRD to seek out such people at the start of this second go-round at solving the sewage treatment puzzle.