Residents of Kamloops, including CUPE members, are waging a pitched battle to keep ownership and control of their drinking water.
The city has been ordered by the area health region to improve water quality, and is planning a new treatment facility that will cost an estimated $60 million.
While there is a role for the private sector in designing and building the best possible facility, city council seems determined to hand away public control by entering into a public private partnership so much so that they used a biased public opinion survey that was slanted towards P3s to try and bolster their case.
Yet even the cost of borrowing tips the scales against private sector involvement. If the costs are shared through the federal-provincial infrastructure program and the city borrows $20 million, their cheaper interest rate saves between $5 and $7.5 million over private sector borrowing. If the city borrows the entire $60 million cost, the savings rise to between $15 and $22.5 million.
Add in any private companys profit margin as well as the loss of accountability and community control that follows public private partnerships and the P3 case collapses.
Kamloops water workers, members of CUPE 900, will continue to push for the new plant to remain in public hands, to ensure high-quality, safe and affordable drinking water.