I can find no words to express my deep disappointment at the Village of Cumberland’s 11th hour decision to withdraw support for the South Sewer Project.
It may take a decade or more before the realization of this unique opportunity (lost) becomes apparent.
The project came at a historic time when the Comox Valley was represented at the cabinet level in both the provincial and federal government. Our own Komox First Nations had just signed a pre-treaty agreement in principal and our federal MP was the minister of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs. No small coincidence that a $15million grant – the largest single award of gas tax funds in B.C. – came through UBCM for the South Sewer Project with Cumberland, Area A and KFN as partners. It all came with a shelf life. Substantial completion by 2017 or we give the money back.
Issues of governance were respectfully worked out with the three partners meeting as a select committee over the past two years and with the help of well known municipal lawyer Colin Stewart.
In meetings at UBCM with provincial Minister of the Environment, Mary Polak, it was agreed that discharge into Baynes Sound was a non-starter due to the optics that would have devastating consequences on the economics of the shellfish industry as well as objections of our First Nations partner.
All this in addition to the Canada P3 application process that has advanced through to round eight (which could bring an additional $20-plus million to the table) not to mention the recent change in our federal government and their commitment to local government infrastructure, brings me to puzzle why pull the plug now? It was not even a “drop dead” moment with possible additional funding and much public process left including a potential referendum.
My dad used to say, “It is never cheaper to build anything than it is today.” Costs have almost doubled over the past 10 years and regulations grow stricter by the day.
Perhaps all the planets will align again but I would advocate a reality check.
Director Area C and member of the South Sewer Select Committee