There is a water battle boiling in British Columbia as concerned residents in the communities of Mission-Abbotsford organize to stop a proposed $300 million public-private partnership (P3) water project at Stave Lake. This weekend, CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill weighed in with an opinion piece published in Saturday’s Vancouver Sun entitled Water is a gift for all, not a commodity to be sold.
The Stave Lake P3 water project was planned as a joint-project between Mission and Abbotsford to meet the future water needs of both communities. However, Mission council voted 4-3 not to proceed with the P3 option after the community made it very clear that they did not want to see their water services privatized.
The city of Abbotsford then modified the project to pursue the P3 water project, but cannot proceed until they secure approval of the electorate in a referendum scheduled for November.
The additional challenge faced by the city of Abbotsford in moving forward with the P3 project is the fact that the water supply (Stave Lake) is located in Mission and the roads under which water pipes would carry the P3 water to Abbotsford are also on Mission land.
To date, Mission has not granted the city of Abbotsford right-of-way access to the roads. The land for the proposed water treatment facility, though located in Mission, is on Crown land.
CUPE members are encouraged to join in community struggles to keep water and wastewater in public hands. Check www.keepwaterpublic.ca for updates on campaigns from across the province.