LOCAL EDITORIAL: The price of progress

Engineers will tell you that you can have anything you want — if you throw enough time and money at it.

Engineers will tell you that you can have anything you want — if you throw enough time and money at it.Build a bridge from Vancouver Island to the mainland. No problem.The Great Pyramid? Liberally deploy an army of motivated, replaceable slaves, wait for a few years and you’ve got a tomb fit for a pharaoh.Significantly increase the population capacity of the Comox Valley by approving a slew of development proposals? That could be more tricky.For instance, the Comox Valley Regional District board is grappling with how to pay for a part of development that is usually out of sight and out of mind, yet vital and costly nonetheless.The CVRD’s sewage commission discussed last week a shortfall of more than $40 million expected from a decade of installing sewer infrastructure to support new developments.Numerous projects — new pump stations and sludge composting at the Pidgeon Lake landfill among them — are estimated to cost nearly $88 million, offset by a government grant just shy of $6 million.Development cost charges (DCCs) paid by developers are expected to contribute about $33 million, leaving a sizable shortfall.The CVRD is contemplating a drastic increase to sewer DCCs, which would discourage developers. However, beleaguered taxpayers can take only so much and Victoria is bleeding red ink.The local conservation group that brought this problem to light is on good ground to worry that development approvals are outstripping the budgets of Comox Valley municipalities.That, states the Comox Valley Conservation Strategy, could leave taxpayers to cover unfunded infrastructure liability costs.Don’t think this is a tempest in a teapot cooked up by an anti-development group. Municipal staff in Comox and Courtenay share the concern.Saying a flat no to development is not a good option, but our local politicians must realize the ramifications of their decisions endure well after their terms expire.editor@comoxvalleyrecord.