Making Peace Vigil

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WORLD WATER DAY, MARCH 22 2013

Posted by strattof on March 21, 2013

In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 22 World Water Day. It is a day for focusing our attention on critical water issues.

This year World Water Day has a special meaning for Regina:

Without consulting the citizens of Regina, Regina City Council, at its February 25th meeting, approved a public-private partnership (P3) contract for the city’s new $224.3 million wastewater treatment plant. The P3 deal would see a private company not only design and build the facility, but also finance, operate, and maintain it over a 30-year period.

It is a very bad deal for the citizens of Regina.

P3 WASTEWATER PLANT A VERY BAD DEAL: 5 REASONS

#1 The P3 deal will cost Regina taxpayers more than if the City of Regina were to retain control of the facility.

According to City Council, the P3 deal will save Regina taxpayers money. Thanks to the Harper government, it is true that a P3 deal is now the only way to access federal government  infrastructure funding. If Regina chose not to go the P3 route, it would lose $58.7 million in federal government money.

However, this does not mean a P3 wastewater plant is a good deal. $58.7 million in federal government funding will not make up for the additional costs of the P3 arrangement:

  • Cities can borrow money more cheaply than private companies. Private borrowing has higher interest rates than public sector rates.
  • P3 loans are usually paid back over a longer term than direct municipal borrowing. In this case it’s a 30-year period.
  • The public will not only pay for the service, we will also pay for the profits that must be paid to shareholders in the private company that is operating and maintaining the facility over the 30-year period.

Who benefits most from P3s? Large multinational P3 corporations.

#2 The P3 deal will result in a reduction of service quality.

Private companies minimize cost in order to maximize profit. When they take over a public service, such as wastewater treatment, they typically cut costs by laying off workers and reducing safety measures.

The water and sewage system in Hamilton-Wentworth provides an instructive example. In order to cut costs, the private company running the plant laid off half the workers. The result? A disastrous reduction in service quality with raw sewage being dumped into Hamilton Harbour. In the end, the city had to step in and take back the plant, as well as clean up the mess. 

#3 The P3 deal will be bad for local workers and contractors.

  • P3s save money by laying off workers, using non-unionized labour, reducing wages, and cutting hours.  
  • P3s squeeze local contractors out of business. Local construction firms cannot compete with big out-of-province companies. Our P3 wastewater treatment plant is likely to be built and operated by a huge multinational corporation.

#4 The P3 deal takes an essential public service out of public hands. 

Technically, the City of Regina may own and control the wastewater treatment plant. However, since the plant will be financed, operated, and maintained by a private, for-profit company for 30 years, it will actually be nearly impossible for the City to maintain control of the facility. For this reason, the P3 deal can rightly be viewed as a transfer of a public service into private hands.  

#5 The P3 deal is undemocratic.

Regina citizens were not consulted. The P3 deal was not an election issue. Nor was there any public consultation.   

At a cost of $224.3 million, the wastewater plant is the second largest infrastructure project Regina has ever undertaken.

TAKE ACTION

KEEP WATER IN PUBLIC HANDS

  • Attend the launch of a petition calling for a referendum on the P3 wastewater treatment plant: Friday March 22, 7:30-9:30 pm, Artesian, 2627 13th Avenue.
  • Join Regina Water Watch: www.reginawaterwatch.ca
  • Let Prime Minister Harper know you want the federal government to stop forcing municipalities to do P3s when they need federal funding for infrastructure projects: pm@pm.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.
  • Let your City Councillor know you want Regina City Council to put pressure on the federal government to provide infrastructure funding without forcing municipalities to do P3s.

LEARN MORE ABOUT P3s

Read

►    The Council of Canadians’ fact sheet on P3s: http://www.canadians.org/water/documents/WWD/2009/WWDFS-0309-P3s.pdf

►   Asking the Right Questions:A Guide for Municipalities Considering P3s, by John Loxley: http://cupe.ca/updir/P3%20Guide_ENG_Final.pdf   

Watch the YouTube video Putting Water Back in Public Hands: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlSM1TPm_k8

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One Response to “WORLD WATER DAY, MARCH 22 2013”

  1. You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the
    best sites on the web. I’m going to highly recommend this blog!

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