More than two-thirds of Kamloops residents place more trust in the local municipality than a private company to provide safe and affordable drinking water, according to a new Ipsos Reid poll. Further, a resounding 81 per cent of residents surveyed agreed that drinking water facilities should be publicly owned and operated.
There has been no public consultation to date in Kamloops on this important issue, notes Mel Hale, President of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 900. Thats why our union decided to commission this poll. Residents deserve to be involved in any discussions about the future management of our water treatment services.
The results of this survey clearly show that local residents share the same concerns raised by the thousands of citizens who have convinced the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) not to privatize the building and operation of new water treatment facilities, Hale says. The GVRD encompasses 18 municipalities with a total population of over two million. The villages of Oliver, BC and Cochrane, Alberta also recently decided to keep their water services public.
Three-quarters of the Kamloops residents surveyed, including those who said they support privatization of water services, said they are concerned that a private company would be less accountable to the taxpayer than the city and are also concerned that profits might not stay in the community under a privatized system.
At the Kamloops City Council meeting tomorrow, Hale will present a petition signed by 1,850 local citizens who are opposed to any privatization plans for area water treatment.
I will also be responding to the $50,000 private consultants report that the City of Kamloops commissioned on this issue, Hale indicates. That report neglects to mention the many success stories among Canadian cities that choose to manage their own water, and omits case histories of unsuccessful private operations. Kamloops residents may want to question the neutrality of the consulting firm.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers is registered as a lobbyist for Seagrams, which last year merged with Vivendi the largest private water company in the world.
Four hundred Kamloops residents were randomly surveyed in the poll commissioned by CUPE. The poll was conducted between June 4-7, 2001. The results are estimated to accurately represent within +/- 4.9 percentage points what the overall results would be if the entire adult population of Kamloops was surveyed.
Media, for interviews or copies of the Ipsos Reid poll, please contact:
Mel Hale, President CUPE Local 900
(250) 374-0042 or (250) 319-1907 (cell)