The question of the sewerage operation and management contract has again raised its ugly and contentious head (a tempest in a pee pot?).
The following observations are based on a look at EPCOR’s website, and my past experiences as an employee in government, a large for-profit corporation, and currently as a small business owner in Sooke.
1. A tender process is no guarantee of a positive outcome. Tenders may be necessary to provide an illusion of fairness and prevent overt cronyism, however they are expensive to prepare and review. And cheapest is often more expensive in the long run.
2. Contracts are agreements between two parties. If one party is not meeting the terms of the contract, it can be dissolved. Signing a 21-year contract is less binding than getting married “Till death do us part,” – and there is no chance of an alimony case showing up 10 years after the divorce.
3. EPCOR is an ethical and reputable company with a 120-year track record of providing excellent services with fairness and consistency. They have won dozens of awards for technical and ethical performance (for more details see www.epcor.ca). If any of this changes in the future, see point 2.
4. Of course EPCOR wants a longer-term contract. They are responsible and concerned for the employees who run the plant, who live in our community, and who spend their wages and pay their taxes to support the community. Living year by year must be very stressful for these people and their families, not knowing if or when they will have to move.
5. Gee whiz, it costs more to run the system this year. I’m sure this is all about the company a.) getting in some profit gouging and/or b.) the result of incompetence in budgeting, and has nothing to do with the increased costs of fuel, power, wages, insurance, parts and supplies. If at some point the costs seem unreasonable to our competent municipal administration, I have every confidence that they will review the situation and refer back to point 2.
6. The people who manage and administer the municipality are your neighbours. They live here too. I can’t think of any reason they would recommend something for the community that is not in our best interests.
At some point we need to trust someone to run our sewerage system. EPCOR has been doing a great job for five years; (they built it on budget and ahead of schedule) so why not let them keep on doing it? If they stop doing a good job, well, see point 2.
In summary, please: save our tax dollars and don’t push for a referendum.
PS: I do not work for EPCOR and have no past, present or planned future relationship with them, have no financial or other interests in the company, have not been paid to write this letter, and have nothing whatsoever to gain through the expression of this opinion.