Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Opinion Editorial South Sewer - Cumberland Dodged a Bullet

CVRD Director Edwin Grieve wrote a letter to the Comox Valley Record about Cumberland's decision to withdraw from the South Sewer Project. In case you missed it, that letter is visible here. Our response was not published by the Record. 

To The Editor, Comox Valley Record

Edwin Grieve's letter criticising our Council over the South Sewer project is inappropriate, patronising and concerning to residents of Cumberland.

It is inappropriate for our elected officials to conduct communication through the letter column. It shows that they have been unable to fully listen to each other during the many meetings and consultations that have marked this lengthy process.

The facts that Mr Grieve lays out are well known to Cumberland Council and have been openly and clearly communicated to residents, demonstrating an example of community consultation that the CVRD would be well advised to follow.

Cumberland's decision was made in full knowledge and careful consideration of all these factors. To use the public press to rebuke the Council for the result of a democratic process suggests that our Councillors' concerns about project governance are perfectly valid. Cumberland is not the naughty child refusing to obey a parent's instruction; we would be the majority of connections and funding for this system.

Mr Grieve admits that the decision to move the system discharge to Cape Lazo was a matter of optics. Some parties needed to be convinced that releasing drinkable water into Baynes Sound is acceptable but it was easier to add nearly $6m to capital costs and a whole set of operating costs for ever more. A lack of courage and consultation transferred a significant cost back to the residents of Cumberland.

The availability of federal and provincial funding does not turn a bad project into a good one. Spending someone else's money does not relieve us of the responsibility to spend it wisely. A monster engineering project with a pipe under the ocean is not the solution to the sewage needs of five thousand homes. When it becomes cheaper to fit every home with a new septic system, something is wrong with the shared project.

We ask that the CVRD revisit and repair the relationship with Cumberland on this issue, and that they do so in a manner and tone appropriate to municipal politics and with due respect for the interests of the citizens of Cumberland.

We don't think Cumberland missed an opportunity. We dodged a bullet.

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Opinion - Editorial