The old expression, “you made your bed, you have to lay in it,” could be used when describing the Capital Regional District’s current predicament around sewage treatment.
Unable to achieve much in the way of concrete progress since the single-plant solution for McLoughlin Point was scuttled by the Town of Esquimalt in 2014, CRD directors are now standing on the sidelines, where they’ll mostly watch the newly appointed project board roll up their sleeves and do the heavy lifting on this project.
Any final recommendation from the project board will still need the approval of the CRD board. But having had their ability to discuss this project at length taken away by the province – either at the sewage committee level or the full CRD board – the regional government has been effectively neutered on this project.
We worry that with a similar cast of characters on the new board, another project director due to come in and a similar set of goals and priorities laid out as were in place for the Seaterra Commission, this process looks and sounds a lot like the previous regime.
The hope is that with the province paying closer attention to the work being done by the new group that such grievous errors as trying to ram an oversized McLoughlin Point plant through at Esquimalt council, or spending $17 million on land on spec as a biosolids centre will be avoided.
View Royal Mayor David Screech rightly voiced discomfort with the fact the new board will meet behind closed doors and make only semi-regular progress reports to the CRD board. That means the public won’t hear discussions on siting, integrated resource management, land acquisitions or other aspects of whatever plan is brought forward.
Giving local politicians less opportunities to extend this process further may prove to be a good thing. But we still expect them to hold the new board’s feet to the fire and provide them with details relevant to local communities.
The situation requires our elected officials and ourselves to trust others. We only hope the province has our backs in this situation.