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January 14, 2015

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New sewage treatment consultations underway on the South Island

VICTORIA—Discussions and decisions are once again on the table about the future of sewage treatment in the Capital Regional District on south Vancouver Island. The communities of Colwood, Esquimalt, Langford and View Royal as well as the Songhees Nation have formed a Westside working group to look at sewage treatment options and they are seeking public input.

CUPE members and others who support publicly owned and operated sewage treatment have a number of options to get involved and be part of discussions.

In the short-term, you can fill out the brief online survey

While the options on the survey do not offer the opportunity to talk about keeping operations public as a priority, advocates of public sewage treatment can use survey sections allowing for additional comments to indicate support for public ownership and operation. More information about problems with privatization can be found below.

The public is also invited to attend one of the upcoming open houses and share your feedback about the importance of keeping sewage treatment services public. Details are below.

Date: Wednesday, January 14, 2015, 5 - 7pm
Location: Colwood City Hall, 3300 Wishart Road

Date: Tuesday, January 20, 2015, 5 - 7pm
Location: Langford City Hall, 2nd Floor, 877 Goldstream Avenue

Date: Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 5 - 7pm
Location: Esquimalt Municipal Hall, 1229 Esquimalt Road

Date: Thursday, January 22, 2015,5 - 7pm
Location: Songhees Nation Wellness Centre, 1100 Admirals Road

Date: Thursday, January 29, 2015, 5 - 7pm
Location: View Royal Town Hall, 45 View Royal Avenue

Why public ownership and operation matters

There are many arguments in favour of public ownership and operation.

  • Privatization costs more. Public-private partnerships or P3s are a taxpayer rip-off. They cost more than public operation. Private corporations take on P3 projects to make money. They answer to shareholders, not the public or taxpayers. Private financing costs more and the “mark up” for taking on risk and meeting profit targets adds significantly to the cost of P3 projects. British Columbia’s new Auditor General, Carol Bellringer recently offered strong evidence of this in her annual report where she found that government is paying nearly twice as much for borrowing through P3s as it would if it borrowed the money itself.

  • Taxpayers “run the risk” in the end. If things go wrong, private corporations can walk away. Government and taxpayers cannot. We end up with the problem and ultimately pay to clean up the economic and sometimes, environmental mess.

  • P3S lock us into decades-long contracts. They lock our local governments and communities in to 30-or-more -year contracts. This limits current and future generations having a say in a key part of their community. Multi-decade contracts also limit how flexible our communities can be in terms of using new technologies or responding to new information – as they are locked into long contracts, which often involve old technology.

  • P3 deals are very complex and secretive. P3 deals are secretive and negotiated behind closed doors. By the time they are finished, the contracts are huge and incomprehensible even to the staff of cities that are “purchasing” the service.

  • Lose local jobs. With P3s jobs often go to big corporations and we lose local investment, tax resources and jobs. We want local government to be able to offer the next generations challenging jobs that pay decently and allow the students of today to stay in our communities and have successful careers. Investing in public services is part of that.

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