Apr 15, 2010

Powell River to privatize wastewater treatment

POWELL RIVER—Residents may soon see privatized wastewater treatment if the City’s plan goes ahead. CUPE 798 members are raising concerns about the agreement in principle the City signed with Catalyst on Friday, April 9.

The twenty-year agreement, with an option for renewal, would pay Catalyst $750,000 annually to treat the region’s wastewater. With the signing, Catalyst dropped their appeal of a court decision upholding the company's property tax rates, and agrees to pay a reduced tax rate to the City. Catalyst’s cheque for outstanding taxes is being held in trust until the City implements the business plan on privatization.

“Privatization of water or wastewater treatment has been proven time and time again to be a bad idea,” says CUPE 798 president Graham Mahy. “Water and wastewater should not be entrusted to a private company. The public should have control and accountability.”

CUPE 798 will work with community groups to ensure that public trust is maintained and that residents get high quality services.

The Capital Regional District in greater Victoria recently voted in favour of public wastewater treatment after a public outcry. They decided to move forward with the public option after reviewing the financial and community implications of private procurement.

“In Victoria, public sewage was shown to be more affordable and accountable than private,” says CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill. “The City of Powell River’s approach to a difficult situation will create more problems than it solves.”

COPE 491