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November 17, 2011

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Residents concerned about the ‘private’ in P3

ABBOTSFORD—City of Abbotsford residents have serious concerns about the Stave Lake P3 deal. That’s the message from the latest Angus Reid poll on the scheme. 

Two-thirds of respondents in the City ordered poll are concerned about the “role of private businesses” (68 per cent) and the “secretive process” (67 per cent) in this P3 deal. Concern over private business involvement is up 10 points from the last poll in August.

Skewed questions and unsubstantiated claims in the City of Abbotsford poll did not stop respondents from expressing their worries.

One of the poll questions stated that “the capital cost of the Stave Lake Water Supply and Treatment Project is beyond the City of Abbotsford’s capacity to develop alone”. The same question also claimed that “funding up to $65.7 million from the Federal Government...will make the project less expensive.”

Water Watch Mission-Abbotsford takes issue with both those statements. 

“If Abbotsford pursued a regional water solution with Mission, Mission would contribute at least $75 million to the cost. That was the original pre-P3 plan and that would more than make up for the federal incentive of taxpayers’ money,” said Water Watch Mission-Abbotsford spokesperson Janet Chalmers. 

Chalmers added that lower-cost public borrowing and better use of current water sources and public management would make a non-P3 project less expensive - to the tune of $30 million over the life of the project.

Another poll question stated “as you may know, the City of Abbotsford has an immediate need for a new water supply...”  However Ed Regts, former City Chief engineer, has said repeatedly that the current water sources are not even close to capacity and are more than capable of providing enough water for Abbotsford until at least 2023.

The poll found less than half of the respondents (46 per cent) believe that the City has “provided all of the facts” to the public. Also, 79 per cent of respondents are worried that “the project will not be delivered on budget” and barely more than half (52 per cent) agreed that Stave Lake is “the best option”.

Chalmers said that “this poll shows that Abbotsford residents aren’t taking this issue lightly and that they won’t be told what to do. There is no rush to make a decision. Abbotsford should join Mission in considering other non- P3 options, options that include Mission – Abbotsford’s neighbour and partner.”

From Oct. 28 to Nov. 4, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted a telephone survey among 300 randomly selected registered voters in the City of Abbotsford. The margin of error, which measures sampling variety, is +/- 5 per cent.

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