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CUPE BC was front and center at a major municipal conference this week, opposing privatization and promoting public services. CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill says the public-private debate is at a “critical juncture”, given the intensified push for P3s federally and provincially.

Every year CUPE plays a high-profile role at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities meeting, highlighting the dangers of privatization and promoting public solutions and funding options. The annual convention brings together mayors, councillors and other officials from throughout the province.

Municipalities, which provide most of the public services we depend on daily, are the main battleground for the drive to privatize and the fight to resist that trend, says O’Neill in a statement.

He points out that cash- strapped communities, eager to see a new hockey arena or rec centre—but without an Olympic-sized bill attached—are most vulnerable to the seductive promises of big corporations.

CUPE BC helped support progressive resolutions, including several addressing the municipal infrastructure deficit and two on water issues.

One water resolution, tabled by the district of Tofino, was largely inspired by a crisis in the tourist-dependant economy of Vancouver Island’s most famous fishing village. Private water companies were eager to move in when Tofino ran out of tap water just over a year ago.

The Tofino Water Declaration opposes bulk water exports and points to the Seymour-Capilano drinking water filtration project and Whistler wastewater treatment plant as examples of how public control is often more cost effective than going private.

During the four-day conference, UBCM delegates also rejected the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement  – a deal that eliminates the power of local and regional governments to act in the best interest of their citizens and communities. There is growing opposition to this trade deal, which has been signed by BC and Alberta and is being pushed in other provinces.

You can read Barry O’Neill’s full column about the union’s UBCM priorities here.