EDITORIAL: Sewage process transparent so far

Slow and steady progress demonstrates new way of looking at the huge project

It came as no real surprise to us that the majority of potential wastewater treatment sites for the west side of Greater Victoria are located on the West Shore, primarily in Colwood.

Despite consistent development in the past couple of years, our area still has the most open land of any in the region outside the Saanich Peninsula, which retains its farm country status for the most part.

The idea of publicizing a relatively large number of sites – 20 separate lots, both public and privately owned were identified, similar to the number for the eastside – is a refreshing change from the one large plant strategy previously put forward with Macloughlin Point.

We still shake our heads over that debacle, how the site was chosen and planning moved forward for a larger-than-allowed plant there; despite the fact appropriate zoning for such a structure had not yet been secured from the Township of Esquimalt.

In announcing 20 potential sites for the location of whatever aspects of this new idea for a sewage treatment system are decided upon, Westside Select Committee leaders Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins and Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton distanced the current group from the old guard, who pushed hard for the Macloughlin plan.

“In my mind, the most important thing here is that we don’t do the missteps that we may have done in the past; that we ensure the public is always part of the process,” Desjardins said last week.

Is the prevalence of sites in Colwood and Langford going to cause the same ruckus in those communities the Macloughlin plan did in Esquimalt? None of the sites identified will likely be immune from public criticism.

But at least the process of determining the shortlisted sites appears so far to be more transparent than it was in the previous attempt to get the provincially and federally mandated sewage treatment done. While technical open houses may not hit the mark with all residents, in the case of this multi-million dollar projects, there should be no opportunity for the public to say their elected officials aren’t listening.

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