Two Letters to the Editor

Something smells

Re: “A Private Debate,” August 5-11

The CRD’s marketing plan for sewage treatment is now being advertised in Monday and other local publications. Credit is taken for reducing system costs from $1,200 million to $950 million and now to $780 million in the latest submission to the Province. Apparently we should all be grateful to the CRD decision makers for saving taxpayers $400 million.

In fact, $20 million of public money has been spent over a period of three years in planning poorly-justified schemes going from the exorbitant to the extravagant to the now very generous. CRD has been led by the nose by consultants and by staff who should have known better.

There is still a lot of fat in the system with $200 to $300 million allocated to items for which no justifications have been provided. Some examples include $40 million for Saanich East storage tanks and $60 million for resource recovery, mostly for schemes already reported on as losing causes. Engineering and consulting fees total $100 million, based on an arbitrary fee level that has never been reviewed or justified. Additionally, the inefficient provisional Hartland Road location for the Biosolids Plant with a 17-kilometre pipeline is a very expensive item.

The CRD Liquid Waste Management Committee must press on with driving down total system costs to the minimum that meets all regulatory requirements. ($600 million?) Perhaps then the CRD could genuinely claim gratitude from local taxpayers.

David Langley, Victoria

Poor city

Re: “Infrastructural Integrity,” August 12-18

Esquimalt and Oak Bay are pretty old cities too, so their utilities are probably in similar bad shape, as well as parts of Saanich. So why are we spending three-quarters of a billion dollars on an unnecessary sewage project when the really important part of Victoria’s utilities is in such bad shape?

So, for the City of Victoria, utilities upgrading is $470 million, the new bridge is $50 million and Victoria’s share of that sewage plant will be about $300 million. Include a conservative “fudge factor” of an additional 15 percent for the usual political strategy of underestimating costs, and what would be a huge total of $817 million becomes a realistic total of almost $1 billion.

It boggles the mind that CRD politicians have got themselves into a huge mess trying to justify building and operating a land-based sewage plant mega-scheme, when we know now that it won’t provide any environmental benefit to the marine area—but will be both an environmental and economic liability.

Juanito, via