The constant news cycle may have bumped Greater Victoria’s wastewater treatment project to the back burner.
But work continues on the Capital Regional District’s largest-ever infrastructure expenditure – $782 million at last estimate. This, despite the lack of guarantees about the funding level from the CRD’s partners, the provincial and federal governments.
Readers will remember the commitment made by those two parties to the agreement was one-third each, along with the CRD’s one-third share of the cost.
The CRD has been spending money at a good clip since being ordered in 2006 to replace, with full wastewater treatment, the current practice of piping screened raw sewage into the Juan de Fuca Strait.
To date, roughly $18 million has been spent on consultants’ fees, land acquisitions and other undertakings in preparation for this massive project. That’s a heck of a pile of money to spend before a single shovel or backhoe hits the ground.
Given the rate of spending, the appropriate time is now for taxpayers to start questioning their CRD representatives about where the money is going. CRD liquid waste management committee chair Denise Blackwell is optimistic the promised money will show up soon, but is that enough for the average resident, whose property taxes will be jacked up as a result of the project?
The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development – overseen by Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong – says the province still intends to fund one-third of eligible project costs. Admitting that discussions about governance are ongoing between the CRD, the province and the feds, Chong said in the legislature this spring that when the funding can be released, the NDP – and we hope, the public – will be first to know.
For now it’s all talk.
Taxpayers need to pressure local representatives to go up the governmental food chain and get some better answers, before much more of our money is spent on this project.