The decision we are facing regarding the EPCOR agreement is important to me because as an Organization Systems Consultant who evaluates alternative organizations within a broader community environment, the Sooke region is facing both an exceptional opportunity and a serious threat.
The opportunity is that the Sooke region can be developed as an ideal self-sustaining region. The threat is that the world is teetering on the brink of at least another recession or at worst a catastrophic financial collapse. One key contribution to realizing this opportunity and mitigating this threat is to develop our local economy by maximizing the recycling of funds we spend within the community.
With the EPCOR agreement, profits flow out of our community. Two local alternatives are to provide our wastewater management services through a public works department or through a community co-operative. For both of these alternatives, the funds generated remain in the community, however there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these alternatives.
It is claimed that a public works alternative would be much more costly and is viewed by some people as a less efficient alternative than the private sector. I submit that these costs and inefficiencies can be significantly reduced through proper organization design and creative policy development.
The least well-known alternative is creating a community-based co-operative. This alternative allows for the flexibility of the private sector along with putting the distribution of profits directly in the hands of the community through their elected board. However, this alternative requires some smart, experienced community members who are respected in the community to come forward, organize a core team and develop a sound business plan for the co-operative that demonstrates the advantages of this alternative compared to the EPCOR agreement.
Both of these alternatives require the community to step up and take control of our local economy. This is critical to our success as a resilient, sustainable region. I believe our community has this capability. By saying ‘no’ to the 21-year agreement with EPCOR will take us one step closer to at least objectively evaluating these two local alternatives.