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The resort community of Whistler, B.C. has announced a P3 to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant – a move that could lose the community its ranking as one of Canada’s best sewage treatment providers.

In September 2004, Whistler ranked second in the Sierra Legal Defence Fund’s sewage report card, scoring an “A.” Handing the plant to the private sector could condemn the community to the corporate instability, sewage spills and loss of public control that plagued Hamilton, Ontario under a P3 wastewater contract. Hamilton took back operation of its water systems in December 2004.

Whistler’s “A” ranking comes in part from three public upgrades of the wastewater plant in the 1990s. The P3 upgrade is planned to expand the plant’s capacity to handle the explosion of visitors and athletes expected for the 2010 Olympics.

CUPE B.C. and CUPE Local 2010, which includes the municipality’s wastewater workers, are demanding public consultation on the privatization scheme. They’re also calling for the P3 deal to be made public, including the amount of risk transferred to the private sector, concrete evidence of cost savings, and the impact it will have on municipal workers.