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Regina chapter highlights costs of P3 wastewater treatment plant

Regina chapter activist Jim Elliott helps deliver 24,000 petitions to City Hall in opposition to a proposed P3 wastewater treatment, June 2013.

The Council of Canadians Regina chapter continues to challenge the public-private partnership (P3) wastewater treatment plant in their community.

The Council of Canadians first began raising concerns and organizing against the then-proposed P3 in February 2013.

In a letter to the editor published in the Regina Leader-Post today, chapter activist Jim Elliott reminds readers, “Hundreds of people put up lawn signs, pledged support, answered telephone calls and participated in debates. Over 25 individuals were on steering and planning committees. …There were 24,000 individual petitioners and other organizations, including ours, that wanted a different outcome and a chance to decide on our own future. And 43 per cent of referendum voters (taxpayers) agreed with us.”

Elliott notes, “A traditional Design-Bid-Build model would cost between $37.4 million – $77.2 million less than the proposed P3 privatization, because of higher private financing costs and the need for the corporation involved to make a return on investment. …The traditional proposal would always mean that the taxpayers would own the treatment plant.”

And he highlights, “The city refused to release the Deloitte report justifying the P3 model. Only eight of 70 pages were released. Fifty-one pages had information removed because of ‘commercial confidentiality’, which will probably never be released for public oversight and accountability.”

Elliott was responding to a letter to the editor that stated, “Today the people of Regina have a brand-new wastewater facility that saved taxpayers money during construction and, according to the city, will save them some $250 million over the next 30 years.” Pointedly, Elliott notes, “To propose that we have saved money today is early in the taxpayer’s 30-year stake in this project.”

Research reports back him up.

The report – Here to stay: Water remunicipalisation as a global trend published by the Public Services International Research Unit, Multinationals Observatory and the Transnational Institute – highlights that there has been at least 180 cases of remunicipalisation in 35 countries over the last 15 years.

The report reveals, “The factors leading to water remunicipalisation are similar worldwide. The false promises of water privatisation that have led to remunicipalisation include: poor performance of private companies, under-investment, disputes over operational costs and price increases, soaring water bills, difficulties in monitoring private operators, lack of financial transparency, workforce cuts and poor service quality.”

Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute researcher Satoko Kishimoto says, “Despite more than three decades of relentless promotion of privatisation and public-private partnerships by international financial institutions and national governments, this experiment has clearly failed to deliver its promises and is leading many cities to seek to take public control over water and sanitation management.”

To read the Regina chapter’s letter to the editor, click here.