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(Halifax) – The Halifax Regional Municipality’s plan to cleanup the Halifax Harbour has two strikes against it and the project hasn’t even started. By privatizing operation of the treatment plants and failing to meet the standards for federal funding, councillors are leaving local taxpayers exposed to skyrocketing costs.

That warning is being issued today by CUPE National President Judy Darcy, who says, “We know from experience the costs of going private are much higher than public delivery – and now we find the project likely won’t qualify for federal grants because the sewage systems are too primitive.”

The treatment system that has been recommended to council provides for only basic ‘primary’ treatment whereas more advanced ‘secondary’ treatment may be required to qualify for federal funding.

The private companies involved in this project appear to be selling technology that will be outdated before the plants are even built,” says Darcy, “and the citizens of Halifax are going to be paying through the nose for the next forty years.”

The president of Canada’s largest union says, “CUPE has consistently argued that the harbour cleanup must be publicly owned and operated. Here is yet another reason why having public control just makes sense. The city is going to be strapped with a very expensive upgrade down the road, which in effect makes the $262 million price tag totally unrealistic.”

Councillors passed a motion this week to negotiate an ‘off-ramp’ six years into the contract but it’s clear that this is one road that should be posted ‘do not enter’, says Darcy. “International trade deals will make it very expensive for the city to back out of a deal once it’s signed.

The French multinational water giant Suez, the key player in the winning bid, will simply take the city to the Trade Tribunal now set up under the free trade deals and argue the off-ramp provision is unfair”, says the CUPE national president.

Darcy is urging Halifax residents to call their councillors or the mayor before the final vote on the harbour cleanup, which takes place Tuesday, December 11.

Opeiu 491

For information:
Robert Fox, CUPE Communications,
(613) 237-1590
John McCrackenCUPE Communications Rep.
(902) 455-4180 (o)