Jan 19, 2010

School board supports public sewage treatment

Victoria council committee to hear motion on Thursday

VICTORIA— The Greater Victoria Board of Education will be letting city councils and the Capital Regional District (CRD) board know that it supports public water and sewage treatment.

At last night’s meeting of the School District 61 board, trustees voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution to inform all city councils and the CRD that the board of education fully supports a public water and sewage system.

Trustee Catherine Alpha, who brought the resolution to the board, said that it is about student safety and that a public sewage system is safer. Alpha also talked about the fact that public-private partnerships or P3's cost more than a public system. She noted that the school board is already dealing with enough downloading from the provincial government and that a P3 is just another way to download costs.

Trustees Peg Orcherton and Michael McEvoy were also vocal in their support for public sewage treatment. Orcherton talked about the parallels between public education and public utilities such as water and sewage – describing both as “public trusts”. She said that public operation will ensure quality, accountability and accessibility for all. Orcherton said that the CRD is representing everyone and said that as a public body, the Greater Victoria school district has a vested interest in how the CRD runs its water and sewage systems.

McEvoy called the notion of a P3 “absurd,” and noted that with well over 50 buildings the school district has a significant footprint and a significant stake in how sewage treatment develops.

Bev Horsman – a 21-year trustee – said that she does not need the CRD documents to know that she doesn’t want a private corporation to control public resources.

CUPE 1978 Keep It Public campaign coordinator Kim Manton was at the school board meeting along with Janet Gray from the Greater Victoria Water Watch Coalition. Both spoke in favour of the resolution. Manton noted that a similar resolution will be discussed at the January 21 meeting of the City of Victoria’s Governance and Priorities Committee. If that resolution passes at committee, it will then go to a full meeting of the council on January 28.

COPE 491