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The privateers are trying to dredge up some pro-P3 spin out of the murky water that made national headlines and at one point had 2 million Vancouverites under a boiled water advisory.

In 2001, public concerns about privatization, including the international trade consequences, stopped the Seymour filtration plant from being built and operated as a P3. Five years later, executives from both Veolia Water and Earth Tech Canada had one message for the media: if the city had stuck to its plans, the plant would have been up and running before the storms hit.

Those who fought to keep the plant public dove in with their responses. “P3 proponents are right about one thing: the project was delayed as a result of the time-consuming decision-making process related to public rejection of a P3 model,” said CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill.

This is typical of P3 deals. The bidding and contract negotiation process is lengthy and secretive. And it is expensive, in that it can add years on to project approval and completion time.”

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, who chaired the region’s water committee during the 2001 water fight, called it “absurd” to link the city’s water woes with the P3 fight.

Construction is underway on a new $60-million drinking water filtration plant for the Seymour and Capilano reservoirs. The plant should be open in 2009.

With files from the Canadian Press and The Globe and Mail.