Obstructionism has increased cost of sewage treatment

Democracy undermined by small, organized groups frustrating the intent of democratically elected decision-making

In a recent editorial the Saanich News decries the lack of progress on sewage treatment, attacks the CRD for supposedly bungling sewage treatment, and lauds the democracy and openness of those currently searching for sewage plant sites.

Unfortunately, I believe this editorial totally distorts what actually happened in the sewage treatment wars. The facts are that sewage treatment was democratically approved through representatives elected in various municipal elections. In my opinion, the CRD was far too democratic in permitting a small, unelected minority of sewage treatment opponents to continually harangue public representatives and public servants whenever frequent public meetings and consultations were held.

Over and over again the likes of Richard Atwell and his little crowd of supporters virulently attacked and attempted, successfully, to discredit decisions democratically made. A number of local politicians gained power partially through their anti-sewage publicity. Never mind that they had little expertise in sewage treatment. With time, total opposition to any sewage treatment in a few cases turned into calls for even more treatment than that proposed by the CRD – this, of course, left unexplained and unexpensed with technologies yet to be developed.

Having successfully derailed the existing treatment plan we are now left at the tender mercies of some who opposed the plan entirely, others who simply want to delay it until 2040 or so, and those who now are converted to treatment but promise much better, and much cheaper, technologies than those proposed by the CRD. The best of luck to them. If they succeed I will be the first to congratulate them, however, current processes give little promise of success.

First, some are still trying to halt sewage treatment and bypass the democratic process by appealing to the federal government to give exemptions or delays to Victoria.

Second, the process of choosing a site is far from advanced but simply repeats actions already taken years ago. I attended one of the Eastside selection/aim projects earlier this year. It was almost exactly like one held by the CRD eight years earlier, only the CRD one was much more informative. It seems to me the process is one in which the organizers can take citizens’ input and afterwards do whatever the organizers wanted to do in the first place, while claiming democratic legitimacy.

The truth is democracy was undermined, not advanced, by small, organized groups frustrating the intent of democratically elected decision-making. This obstructionism has been going on almost for the total adult lifespan of some of the deniers and delayers. That is, we could have had cheaper sewage treatment 20 years ago but for the vociferous few. The perpetrators are now faced with the consequences of their own obstructionism.

When the time comes, let them own up to their responsibilities and not escape judgment through a false rewriting of recent history.

David Coburn

Victoria

 

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