Cen­tral Saanich: Stay out of Brent­wood Bay

Times Colonist - - Islander - DAN O’BRIEN Dan O’Brien lives in Brent­wood Bay.

Cen­tral Saanich is ap­ply­ing to take over re­spon­si­bil­ity for the wa­ters of Brent­wood Bay from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. It is called a li­cence of oc­cu­pa­tion, or LOO, and has a sim­i­lar aroma.

The back­ground seems to be that some Cen­tral Saanich res­i­dents with a view of the bay do not like the look of the boats moored in the bay and have ag­i­tated the coun­cil to­ward the li­cence ap­pli­ca­tion. From the other side, boat own­ers have the right to in­stall a moor­ing and con­sider their boats to be at­trac­tive ad­di­tions to the bay.

The res­i­dents in favour of the li­cence of oc­cu­pa­tion use the ex­cuse that the boats on moor­ings are pol­lut­ing the bay with sewage. The boat own­ers and res­i­dents in favour of the sta­tus quo re­but that the pol­lu­tion is prob­a­bly from an­i­mal-waste runoff and leaky Cen­tral Saanich sew­ers near the bay.

Since the boats all have hold­ing tanks and get emp­tied by a pumpout boat, my opin­ion is that Cen­tral Saanich should prove that the pol­lu­tion is not from the land be­fore blam­ing a few boats.

I’m a boat owner, but I’m also a home­owner and tax­payer in Cen­tral Saanich. My taxes have been ris­ing much faster than in­fla­tion for many years, which tells me that Cen­tral Saanich does not have con­trol of its bud­get. I am dis­mayed that Cen­tral Saanich is try­ing to in­crease its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties when it can’t even ex­e­cute the ex­ist­ing ones eco­nom­i­cally.

The li­cence of oc­cu­pa­tion could re­sult in Cen­tral Saanich need­ing a fire boat, po­lice boats and life­guards. Why? Be­cause re­spon­si­bil­ity for the wa­ter in­cludes re­spon­si­bil­ity for every­thing on and in the wa­ter, in­clud­ing safety of the res­i­dents, their guests and their prop­erty.

Fire boat: $10 mil­lion; po­lice boats: $2 mil­lion; main­te­nance: mil­lions per year. Po­lice and fire­fight­ers and life­guards plus pen­sions: Un­known, but far too much for a small mu­nic­i­pal­ity to han­dle. If the re­spon­si­ble party does not pro­vide safety ser­vices, the first fa­tal­ity on the wa­ter would cost just as much in le­gal fees and com­pen­sa­tion to the vic­tim.

To­day, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is re­spon­si­ble and, un­like the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, can’t eas­ily be sued, mean­ing that the fire pro­tec­tion and polic­ing and life­guard­ing is not re­quired. To­day, the bay is beau­ti­ful and free to the peo­ple of Cen­tral Saanich.

Could it be even more beau­ti­ful and match the goals of the res­i­dents bet­ter — of course it could. The mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Cen­tral Saanich should band to­gether with mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties across Canada to in­sist that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment mon­i­tor boat hold­ing tanks and ma­rine sewage bet­ter.

Res­i­dents like me want our bay to be pol­lu­tion-free and our taxes to be as low as pos­si­ble, so we can af­ford to live in Cen­tral Saanich. I would sup­port a one-time cap­i­tal ex­pense to fix the leak­ing sew­ers and stronger reg­u­la­tion of dog and live­stock fe­ces, but I am to­tally against the mu­nic­i­pal­ity tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the wa­ters of Brent­wood Bay.

Cen­tral Saanich does not have the skills or cap­i­tal re­quired to sub­sti­tute for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, and I don’t want to pay for it to try us­ing my tax dol­lars. Come on tax­pay­ers — join me in telling Cen­tral Saanich to stay out of the wa­ter and keep our taxes down.

Boats sit at an­chor in Brent­wood Bay. Cen­tral Saanich’s ap­pli­ca­tion to take over re­spon­si­bil­ity for the bay from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is fi­nan­cially ir­re­spon­si­ble, Dan O’Brien writes.

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