Editorial: Sewage cost goes up

Greater Victoria’s sewage-treatment project is over-budget, and you can blame the people who bought those new condos.

The $765-million project is $30 million over budget, and managers say it’s because the hot construction market is driving up prices all over the region.

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No one expected a public project as big as this would ever be finished under budget. Still, it is disappointing because any overages have to be paid by local taxpayers.

The project’s leaders are trying to ease the pain by recommending deferring a couple of items, so taxpayers will be on the hook for only an extra $10 million. They have already had to dip into the contingency funds for $56 million to cover overages on seven contracts.

They can save $20 million by putting off upgrades to the Currie Pump Station and the twinning of two pipes, which were to handle excess wet-weather flows.

We can pat ourselves on the back because we have changed our habits and replaced our plumbing fixtures enough that water consumption has dropped to the point where overflows are less of a problem.

Of course, there is a limit to how many pieces of the project can be put off. The contingency is being taxed already, and there is only so much room to cut. If costs go up again, it’s likely managers will have to come back to taxpayers to cover the increase.

For residents of the core municipalities, there is no getting out. They just have to hang on and hope the price doesn’t rise too much more.

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