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Municipal workers in North Battleford are urging the city to strongly reject a proposal to enter into a public private partnership to build a new sewage treatment plant.

US Filter Canada, owned by the French giant Vivendi, approached city officials with the proposal this spring. The city is discussing how to pay for construction of a new sewage treatment plant.

CUPE 287, which represents municipal workers including sewer and water plant operators, presented their concerns to North Battleford city council. Drawing on evidence of failed P3s and water privatization problems at home and abroad, the local painted an ugly picture of the dangers of public private partnerships. The local called on council to keep community control of water.

Several council members said they had not discussed the P3 proposal. However, both the mayor and city commissioner have told the local media the city should consider all options. CUPE members will keep up the public pressure and keep a watchful eye on city council and their water.

US Filter has a history of making unsolicited bids to municipalities. Earlier this year, CUPE played a key role in blocking a secret US Filter bid in Moncton that would have handed the corporation control of the city’s water and sewage pipes, which are in need of upgrading and renewal.

That project has been shelved, but CUPE and other community members will keep close watch on Moncton city council, to ensure an upcoming consultant’s report doesn’t include a new back door for US Filter, or any other corporation. At the same time, CUPE will press for the upgrading work to continue, under public control.