To describe the confusion whirling around the bike path issue as a ‘fiasco’ is being generous. One only had to listen to the ‘discussion’ at last week’s council meeting to be assured that the only sensible move at this point would be to turn the grant down, and put the project on hold. It would take the entirety of this newspaper to even begin to describe the mess we are in, therefore a couple of examples will have to suffice.
Firstly, this whole process should be thrown out. The only way business can be brought before an assembly is by way of a motion. On Sept. 8, 2014, Sooke Council unanimously passed the following motion: ‘Moved and seconded to direct staff to submit an application for funding under the Cycling Infrastructure Partnerships Program (CIPP).’ There was no motion identifying the project and therefore staff did not have the authority to take the matter forward. Any discussion regarding the bike path was hatched by an email from Mike Hicks, urging the council to run with what was in fact his personal project, in order that guests at his guesthouse might have a convenient route into Sooke. Public consultation was a requirement in the guidelines, and one member of the public, with a single email, carried the day.
Of greater concern now that the grant has been given, is that rather than the current figure of approximately $75,000, which would be our half of the costs, we are currently nearer $102,000, and climbing. The guidelines have been contravened in more ways than can be counted. However, one thing to consider is this: A list of non cost-shareable items contains the following: design and planning (currently seeking RFP’s); Cycling facilities that contravene the Motor Vehicle Act (facilities on one side of the road only); and parking facilities. This last item clearly disqualifies the project entirely.
Our council does not agree. If taxpayers don’t get involved and demand proper information, we could lose the grant and end up somewhere well over $200,000, for a project which provides what we already have and takes funds that are needed elsewhere.