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NEWS: Regina’s executive committee unanimously backs P3 wastewater proposal

CTV reports, “Regina’s executive committee has voted in favour of entering a public-private partnership to fund upgrades to the city’s aging wastewater treatment plant….Under the proposed 30-year agreement, a private firm would design, build, finance, operate and maintain the plant. …City council will consider the proposal at its next meeting on Feb. 25.”

“But while councillors unanimously approved the proposal at Wednesday’s meeting, the union that represents about 1,300 city workers raised concerns about the plan. …Tim Anderson, president of CUPE Local 21, says the union’s research shows other cities have ended up paying more interest under a P3 model. …’The experience in many other municipalities is that P3s cost more. They do not transfer risk to the private sector; they do not deliver capital projects on time and on budget, and they undermine democratic oversight and accountability,’ Anderson told councillors. ‘Water and wastewater is integral to our lives and the public overwhelmingly wants water services to be delivered publicly.'”

“CUPE also raised concerns at the meeting about the rights of unionized staff at the plant and the conditions they could be working in.’We were shocked to learn that the city plans to transfer the operation of the existing wastewater treatment plant to the private company and change the employment relationship,’ Anderson said.

‘There has not been proper consultation with our union on the privatization of their jobs.'”

“Regina Mayor Michael Fougere noted that the city must adopt a P3 approach to be eligible for up to $58.7 million in federal infrastructure funding. …Fougere says the aging plant must be upgraded to meet stringent new provincial and federal regulations. Construction is slated to begin in 2014 and is expected to wrap up by the end of 2016.”

The Council of Canadians has highlighted the privatization threat of the Harper government’s new regulations for wastewater, more on that in this April 2012 campaign blog at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=14593. We have also critiqued the Harper government’s P3 Canada Fund, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=17240.

In November 2011, Abbotsford-Mission Water Watch, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and the Council of Canadians helped to defeat a public-private partnership (P3) proposal in Abbotsford, British Columbia, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12063.

For an earlier campaign blog on the P3 threat in Regina, please see NEWS: Regina to debate P3 wastewater plant, February 13, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=19287.