SUDBURY, ON – The union representing Sudbury Municipal workers is urging councillors to reject a privatized procurement model to be presented at Wednesday’s council meeting for a proposed biosolids treatment facility, warning of too many unanswered questions and unknown risks for taxpayers.
“The private model being recommended would result in less accountability, more uncertainty over future costs and the City would still be liable for future environmental problems and failures if the company walks away,” warned CUPE 4705 president Fred Posadowski. “City Council will be voting on a management recommendation at tomorrow evening’s council meeting to adopt a Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Maintain (DBFOM) procurement model for the new sludge treatment plant or biosolids treatment facility.
“In addition to construction, this model would hand over financing and operation of the facility for 20 years to the private sector,” said Posadowski. “The City will have handed over control, but will not escape liability if the project fails. The cost of borrowing is also higher for the private sector, and at the end of 20 years, the City would again be saddled with the costs for any required upgrades, maintenance or renovations and retro-fitting required to meet future environmental standards.”
In order to make a profit, the private company would also try to encourage other communities across the North to haul their sludge to Sudbury, raising environmental concerns and having a negative impact on local highways and communities.
“Simply put, there is no case—economic or otherwise—that justifies this proposal. Time and again, P3s have been shown to deliver less value and public oversight, while delivering more risk and cost to the public,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario.
“We’ve seen it in Hamilton, we’ve seen it in Picton, and we’ve seen it everywhere we see proposals like this one. The promised benefits never materialize, and residents are left to pay the price—through higher taxes and user fees while corporations siphon public monies to pad their bottom lines,” Hahn added.
In June 2010, CUPE presented Sudbury Council with a submission outlining problems with alternate financing and procurement models, and private-public partnerships (P3s) in general, and cited examples of failed projects in Hamilton and other communities.
“It is the City’s responsibility to ensure that sewage is collected and treated and in the end a private consortium or contractor can always walk away, but the City cannot,” added Posadowski. “A public facility that is fully accountable and operated by the City, one that could become a green project, bringing green jobs to our community, would be in the best interest of taxpayers.”
For more information, please contact:
Kristy Davidson, CUPE National representative: 705-674-7557, 416-833-1798 (cell)
Fred Posadowski, CUPE 4705 president: 705-560-4705
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications: 416-292-3999
Kevin Wilson, CUPE Communications for CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn: 416-821-6641 (cell)