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Kamloops City Council has voted unanimously to reject the privatization of water filtration services, in favour of maintaining public control of water treatment. Council is to be commended for heeding the serious concerns raised by local citizens in this regard, says Canadian Union of Public EmployeesB.C. President Barry ONeill.

This vote adds to the progressive movement of B.C. municipalities, from smallest to largest, which have resoundingly rejected plans to put public services into private hands, ONeill notes. It goes to show how valuable the efforts of coordinated community coalitions can be in effecting positive action around this important matter.

CUPE has been actively working with community groups, including environmentalists and senior citizens, to raise awareness among politicians and the public on this issue. In recent months, the Village of Oliver, and the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) representing 18 municipalities, have also decided to continue public ownership and operation of local water treatment plants.

CUPEs campaign, which has included obtaining legal opinions on the implications under international trade agreements, has been credited by the GVRD as being pivotal in its decision not to go ahead with privatization plans.

Yesterdays move by Kamloops City Council followed an extensive presentation by CUPE Local 900 President Mel Hale that included the results of a public poll, commissioned by the union, that shows more than two-thirds of Kamloops residents firmly support publicly-run water services.

Hale comments, This is a great day for the people of Kamloops who have successfully ensured our water will be protected now and for future generations. This decision is also reassuring to CUPE workers who have been delivering these services for years and are committed to continuing to provide quality water services to our community.

We celebrate these wins for public water, but also recognize that municipal infrastructures across this province are in crisis today, ONeill concludes. We look forward to taking the opportunity to work with the B.C. government and municipalities to convince Ottawa to quickly address the chronic under-funding of our local services.

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Media, for comments please contact:
Barry ONeill, President CUPE-BC
(604) 916-8444 (cell)

Mel Hale, President CUPE Local 900
(250) 374-0042 or (250) 319-1907 (cell)