MISSION, BC—The Mission District Council has unanimously affirmed its opposition to the present federal government constraints on funding for public water services. At last night’s regular meeting, Council pledged to call on Ottawa to protect and enhance public water and public wastewater systems by not restricting federal infrastructure funding and maintenance to P3s (Public Private Partnerships).
The move came in response to a presentation by Water Watch Mission - Abbotsford detailing Ottawa’s stance that “municipalities must either privatize their water services or they will not be considered for funding for water projects.” WWMA Mission spokesperson Janet Chalmers called the federal position coercive and unfair, adding that “the federal government should not be demanding that communities like Mission sell off our vital public services to be operated for private profit.”
Chalmers told Council: “We want you to tell the federal government to invest in renewal, replacement and operation of public water and wastewater infrastructure and to stop compelling municipalities to apply for federal funding through P3 Canada. We want our water treatment in public hands, including the management of it.’’
Last spring, Mission District Council joined a growing list of BC communities that have rejected proposals to privatize their water services. The District bowed out of a proposed $300-million Stave Lake P3 water supply and treatment project. A resolution on the same project will be on the ballot in November’s civic elections in nearby Abbotsford.
CUPE water campaigner and Mission resident Diane Kalen-Sukra spoke on the rejected project: “We watched many council members, not just here in Mission but also in Abbotsford, agonize and express dismay at the predicament our municipalities have been put in to access federal funds for vital infrastructure projects. You were being forced to push it through this P3 stream or to privatize our public services - in this case involving the operation (for the proposed Stave Lake project) of our water services for the next 25 years. Mission Council made the correct decision in turning it down.”
WWMA representatives asked Council to support a resolution at the upcoming Union of BC Municipalities annual meeting in Vancouver Sept. 20-26. The resolution, drafted by Burnaby City Council, calls on the federal government to provide funding for public water infrastructure and delivery projects.
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