Municipal leaders in coastal Newfoundland communities have pledged to clean up their act when it comes to sewage treatment and theyre going to do it publicly.
St. Johns currently dumps untreated sewage from about 50,000 homes directly into the harbour about 33 billion litres a year according to the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, which gave the city an F- on its last sewage treatment report card. Two other area communities also dump raw sewage.
Heading off the multinationals before they could make their pitches, CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador met with area mayors, and made the case for publicly owned and operated facilities. The mayors have made verbal commitments to pursue public options.
In addition, the municipalities of St. Johns, Mount Pearl and Paradise have committed their share of the funding to build the much-needed sewage treatment plants, and are waiting for a commitment from the federal government to pay one-third of the cost under the federal-provincial-municipal infrastructure program.
A fourth community, Conception Bay South, has a sewage treatment system that desperately needs updating. Here the multinationals had a chance to make their pitch to the mayor. However, the mayor turned them down, favouring public ownership and operation.
The privatization pushers have tried to shore up what influence they have. The St. Johns Board of Trade has called on new Premier Roger Grimes to turn more services over to public private partnerships. Its pre-budget submission focuses on education and health care services and even recommends setting up a special government branch to sell off public services.
While its also a shot across the bow to anyone supporting public services in the province, the board of trades demands come at a time when the privateers public private partnership is taking on water and in danger of sinking.