West Shore residents look over the information provided at the last of the public open houses

EDITORIAL: They’re doing it right this time

Consulting, rather than dictating, is the right way to develop large, region-wide projects and policies

With the completion of initial public consultation sessions for a potential ‘westside solution’ to sewage treatment, we’ve seemingly come back to where we climbed onto this carousel.

As a whole, the region is more than $50 million into this process now and we’re still at the “let’s explore options” phase, which to many seems to be square one.

While those people are correct – “let’s explore options and consult with the public” should have been the first phase of this process – the Gazette is taking an “at least we got to square one eventually” attitude about this whole thing.

Mistakes were made last time around, there’s no arguing that. There should have been much more consultation with the public, and engagement within and between affected municipalities to determine what’s best for the region in terms of sewage treatment, as there should be in all projects impacting the region as a whole.

Esquimalt did us all a huge service in shutting down the plans made in the initial try. As the Capital Regional District moves forward on separating plans for sewage treatment into two more manageable halves, the CRD knows it has to talk ‘with’ us rather than ‘at’ us, and we have the chance to educate ourselves better and have more say in what’s being done.

After all, we’re committing hundreds of millions – if not billions – of public dollars to this project. Its fiscal and environmental impacts will reach far into the future for our region, both for the west and east sides. It’s not something we should have forced upon us, but something we should accomplish together.

Now it’s up to us. We need to examine the possibilities, become educated about the issues and take responsibility in addressing them.

Once Westside Solutions and its consultants come back to us with proposals based on what open house visitors told them during phase 1 of the reborn project – we need to consider them critically and continue (or begin, if you’d rather) to move forward.

Sure, it would be nice if the people responsible for the debacle that was the first kick at this would stand up and admit they got it wrong, but what’s most important now, in our view, is that they’re finally doing it right.

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