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The long-awaited staff recommendations have come forward on the Halifax Harbour cleanup. Not surprisingly, given the biased process, staff are recommending one of the private bidders design, build and operate the sewage treatment plants.

Equally disturbing, the so-called ‘shadow bid’ which was supposed to provide council with a full-fledged, public option has turned out to be an empty shell. CUPE had predicted – and feared – this to be the case.

Now serious concerns are starting to emerge about the financial commitment of both the provincial and federal governments to this project. The mayor and others have expressed doubts about the city’s ability to finance a $270-million project.

The Halifax Water Watch committee has been strongly advocating for a publicly-run system. It is the question of who owns and operates the plants, after all, that is central to this debate and council’s ultimate decision.

CUPE and its community partners are now vigorously lobbying councilors to maintain control of the harbour cleanup. The recommended private bid is dominated by the French multinational, Suez, the same company whose officials were convicted of bribing the mayor of Grenoble, France in 1995 to win a municipal water contract.

Rather than locking themselves into a 30-year contract with a foreign company that has a questionable track record, HRM councillors have an opportunity to make Halifax’s harbour cleanup something we can all truly be proud of – by keeping it public!