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Municipal Politics: Council Of Canadians Urges a ‘No Vote’ On P3 Referendum
From The Council of Canadians. This Saturday, Abbotsford will vote on whether or not to support the City moving ahead with its plan to have a private company design, build and operate a proposed water source and treatment centre at Stave Lake for up to 30 years.
“There are serious concerns about water privatization,” says Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow. “The Stave Lake project would be only the second full-bore (Design, Build, Finance, Operate) water privatization scheme in Canada and would set a dangerous precedent across the country. P3s cost more than public water services, lack transparency and threaten local democracy. On November 19, citizens of Abbotsford need to say â€˜noâ€™ to a P3 in Abbotsford.”The Stave Lake project, a public-private partnership (P3), would cost $300 million – the largest privately financed undertaking in the water sector in Canada to date. The Harper government has agreed to spend $65.7 million of public money on it from the P3 Canada Fund. That fund explicitly promotes the privatization of public services by only funding P3s in water and wastewater, transportation and communications.
â€œThe city has spent more than $200,000 on a one-sided campaign promoting this P3 project,” says Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui. “The city’s website claims that current water supply will not be able to meet demands after 2016. However former Abbotsford Chief City Engineer Ed Regts has highlighted that the current water sources for Abbotsford are not even close to capacity and are more than able to provide water for Abbotsford until at least 2023.” In addition, the Abbotsford-Mission Water and Sewer Commission has stated the current water supply is sufficient â€“ as long as conservation measures take place â€“ until 2031.
â€œThe Harper government is also seeking a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Europe that would encourage and then lock in water privatization contracts,” Barlow adds, noting European Union negotiators have been asking that Canadaâ€™s municipalities and their water utilities be included in a chapter on public procurement. â€œThe goal is to expand the role of private EU-based water firms in the delivery, treatment and management of municipal water systems in Canada.â€
The Council of Canadians is part of Water Watch Mission-Abbotsford, a broad-based coalition of nearly 1000 community activists and representatives from organizations.