Powerless declaration sends message

Last week, Saanich officially condemned growing genetically modified organisms within its borders.

Last week, Saanich officially condemned growing genetically modified organisms within its borders. While papers were quick to report the decision as a ban, Councillor Dean Murdock explained that without support from provincial or federal authorities, “there’s no mechanism for enforcement.” Instead, Saanich did the next best thing by sending a strong message to local farmers and the federal government.

While Saanich has made similar proclamations — such as their motion at the recent UBCM conference opposing the expansion of tanker traffic on our coast — Murdock is careful to note that the district doesn’t make a habit of issuing meaningless declarations.

Municipal governments are fond of such proclamations, but more often than not they provide little more than a brief massage for bloated egos. I have personally sat through the declaration of Escalator Safety Awareness Week.

Last week’s motion and the recent UBCM declaration indeed blur the line between political grandstanding and something approaching decent, honest principles.

Still, the chains of provincial ownership bind municipalities in The Capital and beyond. Whether or not the strong suggestion of Saanich council will be enough to dissuade local farmers from embracing GMO products remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Victoria announced more developments in the ill-fated Johnson Street Bridge replacement project. In what may be one of the best decisions associated with the project, the city selected PCL Constructors Westcoast — now one of the few organizations involved with any actual experience with similar projects — to take on design completion and construction. The details of the contract are yet to be released, but the city has promised to honour its commitment to a $93-million price tag.

Despite MMM Group having relatively little real-world experience with any project of the same size or difficulty, and arguably having failed to deliver on its earlier promises — both points I explain in earlier issues of Monday — the city has continued to place their faith in the consultant as the project’s primary engineer.

The current budget now includes a few more millions for MMM, whose newest contract brings their total receipts to nearly $15 million. As the project inches closer to the point of no return, taxpayers are left with little more than the desperate hope that administrators are running on something more substantial than faith. M

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