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NEWS: Barlow & Moist speak against P3 wastewater project in Regina

The audience in Regina last night. Photo by Maude Barlow.

The audience in Regina last night. Photo by Maude Barlow.

The Regina Leader-Post reports, “Those opposed to the city’s handling of the wastewater treatment plant upgrade moved from City Hall into the community Tuesday night, in a bid to mobilize residents against a public-private partnership (P3). …Tuesday’s town hall event (with about 200 people present) follows city council’s approval last week of proceeding with a P3 model for the project.”

“‘I think this issue merits debate in the community,’ said Paul Moist, the national president of CUPE… ‘It’s happened so quickly most don’t know about it. So tonight we try to form a public-interest service and keep debate swirling in this community.'”

“Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, stressed that an essential public service like the treatment of wastewater must stay in the public’s hands. She and CUPE leaders disagree with Mayor Michael Fougere’s contention that a P3 contract does not equate to privatization. ‘It’s a story I’ve seen all over the world – they come in, they promise the sun, moon and the stars, and then they say, Oh, gee, it’s costing more than we thought,’ Barlow said in an interview.”

“She and Moist encouraged those in the crowd to speak out against the tack city council is taking with the project. They both cited a referendum held in Abbotsford, B.C. in 2011 that forced that municipality to change course on a P3 model for its water treatment plant.”

“Fougere said he is not concerned that CUPE and the Council of Canadians continue to speak out against public-private partnerships, although city staffers were in attendance Tuesday night. Fougere said they were there to listen to people’s concerns. Asked why the city did not consult Regina residents before moving ahead with a P3 for this project, Fougere said, ‘This is what we’re charged to do for the public, to make decisions and invest in infrastructure… We’re accessing $50 (million) to $58 million that we otherwise would not get, so for us that’s very prudent to do that.'”

“‘It’s a desperate thing happening here to access $58 million,’ Moist told the crowd Tuesday. ‘I think it’s a desperate move, and I think it’s the wrong move.'”

The mayor expects to hear back on its funding application to the P3 Canada Fund by May or June. From there, construction on the wastewater plant would begin in 2014 and be operational by 2016.

For more, please read:
NEWS: Regina city council approves P3 wastewater plant
NEWS: Regina chapter to oppose P3 project at City Council meeting today
UPDATE: Council of Canadians and CUPE to screen ‘Water Makes Money’ in Regina
NEWS: Regina’s executive committee unanimously backs P3 wastewater proposal
NEWS: Regina to debate P3 wastewater plant, February 13