VICTORIA—The fight for public sewage treatment in the Capital Regional District has entered the final phase. After three years of work to develop a new plan, the CRD has released a paper clearly outlining sewage treatment options. The options for discussion are public, private or a mix of the two.
Kim Manton, of CUPE’s Keep it Public Campaign, says that while it is positive that the discussion paper posted on the CRD website this week promises more consultation, the CRD has already heard loud and clear support for public sewage treatment.
“Citizens in the region support public sewage treatment. Most recently, the CRD’s May 2009 public consultation report finds a consistent preference for locally built, publicly owned and managed treatment facilities.”
Manton says that it will be critical for local politicians to stand up to pressure from the provincial and federal governments.
“From the beginning this sewage project has been in the crosshairs of the B.C. government’s privatization agenda. But it is municipal councils and the CRD board who will make the final decision and it is the local taxpayers, not the federal and provincial governments, who will foot the bill for operating costs over the long-term.”
Manton says it is disappointing to see the lack of any critical analysis of P3s. “There is growing evidence from across Canada and around the world that P3s are more expensive and do not efficiently transfer risk. We know that P3s are secretive and that the decades-long contracts make it difficult for local contractors and businesses to be involved,” she says.
Public consultations are promised for February but no dates have been announced. More information is available at keepwaterpublic.ca.