Central Saanich: Stay out of 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.