Dec 20, 2011

Feds peddle P3s: Join the fight to keep water public

BURNABY—Communities across B.C. are saying no to P3 (public-private partnership) water projects, but that isn’t stopping the federal government from peddling P3 projects to municipalities.

A recent study commissioned by PPP Canada recommends that the Crown corporation engage in a “public education campaign” in order to ‘correct’ any “negative perceptions in the public space”, specifically about water P3s.

Public Private Partnerships (PPP) Canada, established in 2009, has a fund of $1.2 billion to promote private operation and financing of public infrastructure and services, with a particular focus on promoting P3 projects to municipalities. A recent opinion piece in the National Post suggested that “PPP Canada is currently reviewing another two dozen applications for water or waste water projects.”

CUPE BC is encouraging communities to join the fight to keep water public.  Abbotsford residents recently refused to accept a $65.7 million federal grant with P3 strings attached by voting ‘no’ to the Stave Lake P3 Project.  The community is now questioning the federal government and their agenda of forced privatization, which denies public funding for vital infrastructure.

Here’s how your community can join the fight to keep water public:

  • Study Lessons Learned: Listen to the in-depth discussion on Vancouver Co-Op radio with Host Charles Boylan which details how a community campaign defeated the Abbotsford Stave Lake P3 project. Featured in the discussion are Mission and Abbotsford spokespersons Janet Chalmers and Lynn Perrin as well as CUPE BC’s Water Watch Coordinator Diane Kalen-Sukra.

  • Sign the Petition:  Fight back against the lack of federal funding for public infrastructure projects across Canada. The petition calls for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the federal government to “unhook” the P3 strings that are attached to the only federal infrastructure funds for communities currently available, those in the unpopular PPP Canada Fund.

  • Organize a Community Event: Contact CUPE BC to organize a “Keep it Local, Keep it Public” event in your community and prevent water privatization before it’s proposed. The event invites both the public and local politicians to watch the European documentary “Water Makes Money” which highlights the problems that European cities such as Munich and Paris have had with water and wastewater P3s. Successful events have already taken place in Abbotsford, Sooke and Maple Ridge.  Contact Diane Kalen-Sukra, CUPE BC’s Water Watch Coordinator, to set up a “Keep it Local, Keep it Public” event in your community.

  • Turn your community “Blue”:  This past fall B.C.’s municipal leaders voted, overwhelmingly, in favour of a “Blue Communities” resolution at their annual convention. The resolution asks for the federal government to provide funding for public water infrastructure and delivery projects and “unhook” funding for water infrastructure and maintenance projects from P3s. Find information on how your community can become a “Blue Community” here.

Follow CUPE BC's Water Watch campaign on Twitter @CUPEWaterWatch for information and resources on privatization.

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