Sackville town council has voted to privatize the operation of its water treatment plant, despite strong opposition spearheaded by the town’s municipal workers, members of CUPE, in partnership with the Council of Canadians and other community activists. Council kept things tightly under wraps, with no public discussion of privatization until it was virtually a done deal.
A chorus of boos from the fifty-plus observers packing council chambers greeted the decision about the P3. The contract, worth $177,600 a year for seven years, was awarded to the only bidder, Veolia Water Canada Inc., the same company operating Moncton’s water treatment plant. Veolia offered Sackville a “reduced rate” – a tactic to gain a further toehold in New Brunswick’s water systems.
Opponents aren’t giving up the fight. CUPE and the Council of Canadians are planning their next steps. CUPE argues council should focus on training its own workers – who are ready, willing and able to achieve the standards needed to run the plant. For the last seven years, water department workers have been asking for support to achieve certification required under new provincial regulations.