Representatives of the Whistler Water Watch Coalition in British Columbia hit the bricks and collected nearly double the signatures needed to make city hall and the province take notice of their concerns through an Alternate Approval Process (AAP). The WWW Coalition needed at least 892 signatures, representing 10 per cent of the eligible voters within the Regional Municipality of Whistler (RMOW). It delivered more than 1,400 signatures nearly a week before the deadline.
At issue is the planned transfer of authority of the treatment of waste water from full public to shared private and public control. There are three multinational corporations bidding for this P3 contract:
- CH2M Hill bills itself as “a leader in wastewater services for Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, Canada, and the United States.” It has offices in Toronto.
- EPCOR is based in Edmonton, with customers in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and the American Pacific Northwest. It describes itself as “the first merger of natural gas, power and water utilities in Canada.”
- Veolia is a French company with dozens of offices and projects around the world “with operations on every continent, (Veolia) is the only operator which can provide services across the waste management sector.”
All three corporations are awaiting the results of the AAP before submitting proposals to the RMOW.
“If we had simply gone ahead with a conventional approach to construction and operation of this project after the federal/provincial infrastructure grants were confirmed in 2004 – instead of launching this expensive and complicated P3 – the project could well be in operation by now and have cost far less,” said Pina Belperio of Whistler Water Watch.
Two years later, with the estimated costs of the project rising, the clock is ticking on an upcoming referendum that Belperio said will incur more costs and more wasted time.
“Whistler residents support the plant upgrade. However, through our interaction with the local community, it has become very apparent that council’s proposal to hand over operation of this public service to a private partner has created a lot of uncertainty and concern.”
Belperio says that given the need for certainty, council should get on with public procurement and avoid yet another voter participation process in the form of a costly referendum.
Ton find more information, simply go to www.whistlerwatch.org, or cupe.bc.ca.