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Peterborough chapter speaks against PDI sale at public meeting

Peterborough Forum

Last night’s public forum. Photo by Adam Coones.

The Council of Canadians Peterborough chapter attended a four-hour public meeting last night to voice their opposition to the proposed sale of Peterborough Distribution Inc. (PDI) to Hydro One.

The Peterborough Examiner reports, “There were more than 260 people at the meeting at Market Hall. About 30 spoke, and all of them questioned the wisdom of a sale. …A little more than a week ago, council voted to start a public consultation on whether to sell the city-owned PDI. The sale would include only the electrical distribution system – not the waterworks or the power generating businesses. Negotiations on the prospective sale to Hydro One have already begun. Local lawyer Ann Farquharson asked the panel exactly when those negotiations started. She was told July. ‘And the citizens of Peterborough are only finding out about it now?’ she asked…”

Chapter activist Roy Brady tells us, “At least 10 chapter members were there; Kathy Langley and myself twice were at the mic.”

Candace Rennick, CUPE Ontario secretary-treasurer, and Adam Coones, the president of CUPE Local 1833, were also both at the public meeting to speak against the sale.

The news report adds, “Mostly, people were impatient with these answers: some called for a referendum on the matter, and many people called on city councillors to not allow a sale to go forward. …City CAO Allan Seabrooke said all comments made by the citizens at the meeting will be compiled into a report for councillors due in April.”

Peterborough mayor Daryl Bennett has previously stated that “there’s no downside” to the potential sale. On Feb. 19, the Peterborough Examiner reported, “That makes Roy Brady of the Council of Canadians bristle: He sees a downside, all right. ‘You’d be selling to a slowly privatizing company – and losing quite a bit of control’, he said. …Brady [also] says there have been consultation processes in the past over controversial decisions such as whether to extend The Parkway. There was much public dissent at those meeting, he said – and it was ignored by council. ‘Consultation means, Alright you can talk – but we’re not listening.'”

And on Feb. 23, the newspaper reported, “On Monday [Feb. 22], the public gallery at council chambers was full of people who’d come to hear about the prospective sale. [Although the opportunity wasn’t provided to them to make comments to council], Roy Brady of the Council of Canadians said in an interview that he’s unhappy the province is promoting the idea of local utilities being swallowed up by larger ones as a means of cutting distribution costs. Meanwhile Queen’s Park sets the hydro rates, Brady points out – and sets those rates high. ‘They don’t save money, yet they expect the city to save’, he said.”

The city’s website is also accepting comments on the proposed sale until March 31.