EDITORIAL: Wading through bureaucracy

Community stairway solution could shed light on sewage debacle

In the wake of news Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park would see a new stairway, reopening a popular access to one of Greater Victoria’s greatest park treasures, it may be prudent to let history show the path to the present.

Following Capital Regional District reports the wooden descent, built above a slope that might be prone to slipping, would need a potential  $1.3-million solution, the future of the structure appeared dire at best.

Not long afterwards, the wooden stairs from the parking lot to one of the most scenic and tranquil seaside locations across Greater Victoria was closed.

That was when Metchosin council stepped in, got engineers to broker a plan for a $100,000 option instead of a million-dollar one, and cut a deal with the CRD.

The caveat? The rural community of 4,000 residents would take over upkeep of stairs used by 30,000 visitors a year, once the CRD paid for it for the last time.

Despite the numerous discussions it took to get to this point, in the end the best possible outcome was achieved with the help of a little common sense and the willingness of the parties to overcome the molasses of bureaucracy.  In the end, both parties did right by the public.

Visitors to the Lagoon were forced to take much longer routes in the interim. But a long-standing public amenity built and rebuilt in the same area for decades will be rebuilt once more.

The lagoon, adjacent to the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the Bilston Creek Watershed, will see its well-travelled entry – a path Metchosin Mayor John Ranns used as a child more than six decades ago – is back in the hands of the municipality.

This situation seems to illustrate how bureaucracy can sometimes wrestle with the weight of its own decisions. Building a staircase is quite simple compared to the challenges facing the CRD on the mammoth project that is regional sewage treatment. But we wonder if the re-opening of the most efficient path to Witty’s Lagoon, using a municipally driven solution, could be a foreshadowing of the way forward on the treatment project?

Perhaps the light at the end of the tunnel, or in this case, a lagoon at the end of a staircase, could be a beacon of common sense for this decades-long debate.