Comox Valley chapter says vote NO to P3 sewer project on June 18

Brent Patterson
5 years ago



The Council of Canadians Comox Valley chapter is opposing a proposed public-private partnership (P3) in the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD).

On May 21, at a popular annual street market in Cumberland, the chapter handed out CVRD Residents for Accountable Sewage information flyers on the issue.

The chapter has blogged, "In collaboration with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), information flyers were distributed encouraging residents to vote no to a 30 year contract with an unknown private corporation in an upcoming referendum on a much needed local wastewater system. Information was provided on the concerns around corporate control of wastewater systems, as well as options that could be considered."

In terms of background, the Comox Valley Record notes, "A referendum for the south sewer project will be held June 18, as approved by the regional district board. The multi-phase project includes construction of a new centralized wastewater (sewer) collection system and water resource recovery facility..." That newspaper has also noted there is a pending commitment from P3 Canada of $13.3 million for the project. A regional district backgrounder further explains, "In the interest of finding the most cost-effective option for the development of this infrastructure, the south sewer project team has identified a partnership with the private sector (public-private partnership) as a means of making this project affordable to property owners."

The Residents for Accountable Sewage flyer highlights, "Support affordable, accountable, public sewage treatment on June 18. VOTE NO ON QUESTION 2 in the Comox Valley Regional District referendum on entering into a 30 year 'Partnership Agreement' with an unknown private corporation."

They say P3s are not worth the risk because:
- P3s severely restrict democratic accountability by tying the hands of future municipal governments for decades.
- It is common practice to withhold information from citizens regarding details of P3 deals.
- P3 contracts are negotiated behind closed doors and are often protected by commercial confidentiality and exempt from freedom of information legislation.

And they highlight there is a better way:
- Instead of giving away tax dollars for the next 30 years to pay the profits of private corporations, our money can be kept in the local economy supporting local jobs and improving local services.
- Instead of paying high interest rates for the next 30 years to big banks, municipalities and regional districts can borrow money at a much lower rate through the Municipal Finance Authority (MFA) to finance important community projects.
- Instead of losing control for the next 30 years, operations of vital community services projects can be run directly by accountable elected representatives elected every four years.

If you are a resident of in the communities of Union Bay, Kilmarnock or Royston, we encourage you to oppose P3s by voting NO to question 2 in the referendum.