NORTH VANCOUVER DISTRICT—CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill was in attendance as the largest water filtration plant in Canada and a model of public infrastructure officially opened on Friday (May 7) in Metro Vancouver—thanks in no small part to CUPE’s efforts to keep it public.
“We don’t realize how lucky we are to have this,” Vancouver councilor Tim Stevenson, a member of the Greater Vancouver Regional District board, said in his opening remarks. “It’s a fabulous example of Metro Vancouver’s commitment to sustainable use of water. People around the world would love to have a facility like this.”
Metro Vancouver CAO Johnny Carline praised union leaders for their efforts in establishing the plant, singling out O’Neill and CUPE for educating the public about the benefits of public infrastructure.
The Seymour-Capilano Filtration Plant is located in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve in the District of North Vancouver. It will treat 1.8 billion litres of water per day from both the Capilano and Seymour watersheds—enough water to fill BC Place Stadium every day, says the Greater Vancouver Regional District.
According to the GVRD, the filtration process “will improve Metro Vancouver’s drinking water by removing turbidity and micro-organisms, and by reducing the amount of chlorine required to maintain water quality. The Seymour and Capilano source water will be treated (filtration, corrosion control and disinfection) and will then be conveyed by regional water mains to member municipalities for distribution to homes, businesses and industry.”
CUPE’s campaign to keep the Seymour-Capilano Water Filtration project in public hands dates back nearly a decade. The June 2001 decision to keep the new plant public was a major victory that rippled across the country, giving fresh energy to other anti-privatization fights.
CUPE organized on the ground with community allies, including the Council of Canadians, to raise awareness about the problems of privatization – including the trade dangers. It was the trade implications that proved to be the tipping point for the GVRD - and sparked broader trade concerns with other municipalities.
At the time, the GVRD said CUPE’s campaign was a ‘catalyst’ in its decision.
For more information about the Seymour-Capilano Filtration Plant, visit these websites: