WHISTLER - On Monday June 19th, the council of the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) voted against going to referendum on a proposed public-private partnership (P3) for a wastewater treatment plant upgrade, ending a proposal that would see the plant operation privatized.
The council decision follows a year and a half of controversy over the P3 in the community.
A Whistler Water Watch community coalition that included CUPE Local 2010 worked tirelessly to convince council to maintain conventional public operation of wastewater treatment. Whistler Water Watch actively participated in a local public consultation process, called the Alternative Approval Process (AAP).
CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill congratulated the Whistler Water Watch coalition on a successful campaign. “It’s a great example of citizen action making a difference. When communities come together to protect their public services, including wastewater treatment, local councils listen.”
CUPE 2010 president Pete Davidson said that the two ingredients to success were the community coalition mounting an incredible campaign and the RMOW council listening to its community.
Because the proposed partnership agreement was to last longer than five years, the municipality was required by the Community Charter to consult electors. Council chose to use the AAP.
Under the AAP, 892 residents (10 percent of Whistler’s electors) had to properly complete Elector Response Forms within a 30-day period ending June 12th before the municipality could consider reviewing the P3 plan. If the 10 percent threshold were met, council would then decide to either scrap the P3 plan or hold a referendum on the issue.
On June 6th, Whistler Water Watch announced that it had gathered more than 1,400 signed forms. By the deadline of June 12th, 1,848 forms had been collected – more than double the number required.
At its June 19th meeting, council voted five to two not to take the issue to a referendum, and requested that RMOW staff proceed with a Design Build (traditional) approach for Whistler’s wastewater treatment plant.
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