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November 7, 2011

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Alberni Valley campaign sinks P3 – keeps water public

BEAVER CREEK – Beaver Creek residents are keeping their water public. They saw little value in a proposed P3 water infrastructure plan. They proved it by voting 73 per cent against a pricey P3 plan on Oct. 29. Instead, the improvement district will be converted into a regional service area within the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD). 

"It's been years since I could trust the water that comes out of my tap,” says activist Susan Roth.  She launched a small but dedicated Alberni Valley Water Watch campaign that ended last week with a huge victory. “Since 2004, we’ve had an average of four boil water advisories per year, some of them lasting up to a month. Becoming a part of the ACRD means Beaver Creek will get a system upgrade and better quality water - that is a victory for all residents.”

The decision to go regional will offer lower capital costs as well as lower borrowing rates, explains Roth. The P3 would have locked the BCID into a 21-year deal with private contractor Corix without any of the benefits that the regional option provides.

Roth explains that “joining the ACRD has given us several advantages that a P3 couldn’t offer. We will have access to government grants and there is already a plan in place for a total system replacement so we won’t face this same problem again in 20 years. The regional solution also offers better legislation that ensures openness and transparency.”

A referendum on P3 water will also take place Nov. 19 in Abbotsford. Residents there will vote whether or not to accept a 30-year P3 drinking water supply deal with an unnamed private partner.

“It is clear that the benefits of a public system outweigh the expensive price tag of a P3 and, we hope that Abbotsford will follow in Beaver Creek’s footsteps and vote no in the Nov.19 referendum,” says Water Watch Mission-Abbotsford spokesperson Lynn Perrin, “a no vote will allow Abbotsford and Mission to work together towards a regional solution that could benefit both communities.”

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