WHITE ROCK – The City of White Rock now owns its own water utility and will be holding a community forum on the subject next week. The City recently voted unanimously to expropriate the system from Edmonton-based EPCOR and operate it in-house using CUPE workers.
The City reported that, “While (it) always viewed EPCOR as a prudent owner and operator, the City’s desire to purchase the utility assets arose out of an interest by the City Council and Administration to own its water assets and have the economic benefits go to White Rock and its residents.”
CUPE Local 402-01 president Mike Guraliuk agrees the move makes sense. “It’s about controlling our resources and the quality of services that White Rock’s public workers provide. We are very pleased that the City has taken this direction.” Guraliuk says the change brings at least five water workers into the City’s CUPE workforce.
Chief Administrative Officer, Dan Bottrill thanked “City staff and CUPE executives who both sought to cooperate and come to an agreement and provided us the opportunity to move forward with an in-house solution.”
The City will be holding a community forum on the operation of the water utility on Thursday, Oct. 15 from 5-7pm at the White Rock Community Centre at 15154 Russell Ave. The aim is to provide the public with more information on the city’s Total Water Quality Management Project and to discuss the impact of this change in ownership on water users.
The City held a public information meeting in June to gather community feedback on various options around the acquisition. Based on that feedback, mayor and council directed staff to move forward with the acquisition. CUPE National Servicing Representative Rob Limongelli called it “a win-win for the workers and the public” and commended the city for its determination to see the process through and regain control of a valuable community asset.
White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin said the decision, “gives the community the responsibility of owning and operating the water utility, and ensuring water utility rates paid stay within the community.”