The District of Sooke has voted unanimously to end their contract with for-profit contractor EPCOR and bring wastewater services in-house. Sooke staff estimate that the District can save approximately $225,000 annually by operating and maintaining the system themselves.
There will be a six month transition period and the District will officially take over as of October 1, 2016.
“The move to publicly deliver wastewater services is a big win for the community,” says CUPE 374 President Shireen Clark. “Not only will there be cost savings, but we now have full control over how this service operates and can ensure that decisions being made about this service are open and transparent. We look forward to discussions with the District about how CUPE can help ensure a smooth transition and provide this important community service.”
EPCOR has operated and maintained Sooke’s wastewater services since 2006. In 2011, when EPCOR’s five-year contract was expiring, City Council considered pursuing a 21-year contract extension however residents rejected that option and instead Council went with another five-year extension.
“This is a prime example of a contract that didn’t deliver the cost savings that were anticipated,” says CUPE BC Secretary-Treasurer Trevor Davies. “In this case Sooke was lucky that the contract was short term as most Public Private Partnerships usually require long term contracts. As other communities consider options for their wastewater services we hope that they will look to what happened in Sooke and consider the many benefits that a publicly owned and operated project offers.”
CUPE 374 represents municipal workers in Sooke as well as other municipal workers in municipalities throughout the Capital Regional District.