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WIN! White Rock municipalizes its privately-owned water utility

White RockPeace Arch News reports, “The City of White Rock and Epcor have reached an agreement on the purchase of the city’s water utility. …The news comes two months after city officials announced plans to expropriate the system from Edmonton-based Epcor, citing at that time a view to acquire title by Sept. 30.”

White Rock, which has a population of about 20,000 people, is located within the Metro Vancouver regional district.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin says, “We heard from the citizens of White Rock that owning our water utility was important. This is the largest project undertaken by the City of White Rock and I am pleased that we have signed the agreement and are taking the next steps to move forward.”

This fight began more than two years ago.

On June 3, 2013, Council of Canadians organizing assistant Ava Waxman spoke at a public event in White Rock with about 100 people in attendance in favour of the municipalization of the water utility. That event also included Chief Joanne Charles of the Semiahmoo First Nation, Margaret Woods from the White Rock Accountable Water Committee, Dr. Mildred Warner from Cornell University, and community representative Phil LeGood.

Later that month, the White Rock Accountable Water Committee – supported by the Council of Canadians Surrey-Langley-White Rock chapter, CUPE Local 402-01, and Water Watch – screened the film Water Makes Money: How Private Corporations Make Money With Water. That film includes clips of Blue Planet Project founder and Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow.

Public Services International has noted, “The White Rock water utility has never been publicly owned. That is why While Rock case is refereed as ‘municipalisation’. The privately owned White Rock Water Works Company owned the city’s water system from 1912. Its subsidiary, White Rock Utilities Ltd., took over the system in 1969. In 2005, White Rock Utilities Ltd. became a subsidiary of Epcor Utilities Inc.”

The situation in White Rock was highlighted in the PSI Water Remunicipalisation Tracker here.

As a result of a lot of good movement activism, the City of White Rock will own its water utility by the end of September!

Congratulations to all involved in this struggle.

Further reading
White Rock, BC may remunicipalize its water utility (March 2013 blog)
White Rock to debate water remunicipalization (May 2013 blog)
Waxman calls for remunicipalization of White Rock water utility (June 2013 blog)