Sewer agreement faulty

All the information about every sewage and wastewater option reviewed should be made public so residents and taxpayers can make an informed decision prior to approving this franchise agreement and sending it to elector approval, so residents can be confident the district is actually making the best financial, social and environmental choice.

After reviewing the evidence available, both the Capital Regional District and Whistler recently decided to build and operate their new sewer treatment systems publicly. The overwhelming majority of wastewater treatment and sewage systems in B.C. and Canada are operated publicly. Only a tiny minority are P3s. The regular and normal way to do this (the way done almost everywhere else) is to do it publicly.

Sooke residents cannot be expected to simply take the district’s word on this. Particularly since it is clear that Sooke has intended to enter into a two-decade long agreement with EPCOR from the onset of the first contract.

This community needs to have access to all the available information and staff reports indicating why the district believes continued privatization is the best choice.

The district has said before that it is interested in accountability and openness with regard to this issue.

The only way to ensure real accountability to council and taxpayers is to bring wastewater treatment back in-house.

Every government that enters into a public-private partnership hopes optimistically that the contract will provide sufficient accountability, oversight and reporting structures.

Even when contracts appears sound, municipalities have had a hard time enforcing it when problems arise with P3s.

At the root of accountability are priorities.

A company’s priorities are profits, reputation and its shareholders.

A city’s priorities are its residents, the environment and the safety of the community.

If this council wants to be accountable and transparent to voters and taxpayers, then the only responsible option is to bring this service back in-house and operate our wastewater treatment system publicly.

Amber Leonard

Sooke