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March 1, 2011

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CRD should keep the door shut on privatized sewage treatment

VICTORIA—CRD directors got a strong message to stay true to their commitment to public sewage treatment and avoid the slippery slope of ‘short-term’ private operation of new sewage treatment.

Concerns were raised in response to a report to the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee (CALWMC) by Ernst and Young on industry interest in participating in the Capital Regional District (CRD) procurement plan. In a letter to the committee, CUPE National representative Blair Redlin cautioned that the “market sounding” report’s recommendations would expand private control of the sewage treatment project.

Redlin questioned why so much of the report appears to fly in the face of previous decisions and clear public opinion in support of public control and operation of new sewage treatment.

On March 31, 2010 CRD directors approved a plan with traditional procurement methods, not a public private partnership. The decision came after detailed reviews of financial, technical and social factors and was resoundingly applauded by CRD residents.

“The Ernst and Young report goes well beyond CRD mandate for private design and building of the facilities. It suggests an operating agreement of between 3 and 5 years, and not just the initial training and maintenance support that the private sector usually provides when it builds public facilities,” said Redlin.

Redlin also noted that the market sounding exercise explored the possibility of entering into a 20-year operating contract with private sector participants. “This is clearly beyond the scope of the original CRD decision.”

“We knew when the decision was made that there would be more to do, despite the fact that residents had overwhelmingly said they do not want privatized sewage treatment. The elected officials in the CRD really listened and made the right decision. They need to stay the course here and stay public,” said CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill.

The CALWMC received the report on February 23. CUPE’s letter to the committee is available here.

More information is available at


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