After 20 years of privatization, Moncton city council has the opportunity to take back control of the city’s drinking water treatment plant. On Monday, May 7, CUPE called on the city to develop a plan to run and maintain this vital public facility in house.

CUPE 51, representing Moncton’s outside municipal workers, is leading the campaign. The delegation to city council included Leo Melanson, president of CUPE 51, Gabrielle Ross-Marquette, CUPE Maritimes researcher, and Pamela Ross, chairperson of the Moncton chapter of the Council of Canadians.

Moncton’s drinking water plant was privatized in a public-private partnership 20 years ago. That contract expires soon.

The city has started looking for corporations to bid on a new 15-year operating contract. But it’s not too late to change direction.

Ross-Marquette’s presentation to council highlighted Canadian communities that have taken back public control and operation of water services. She urged council to slow down and fully study the benefits of in-house operation.

Last week, Melanson made the case for a fully public water plant in a column published in the Moncton Times & Transcript, and Acadie Nouvelle.

Instead of seizing the opportunity to save money and operate the plant publicly, the city is going down the same expensive path of privatized operation and maintenance.

Council of Canadians chapter chairperson Ross described how she and other volunteers were turned away by private management at the water plant when they tried to share information about a toxic pesticide being used in the watershed. She said a publicly-run utility would have listened and responded to concerns about the impact on Moncton’s drinking water.

The message from CUPE and our allies is clear: the water plant serves us well. We own it, now let’s run it too.