The Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce has announced its support of the P3 water referendum, contingent upon $61 million in federal funding and enhanced conservation initiatives.
The chamber is also urging the city to continue to seek additional sources of funding so that "taxpayers are not unduly put under an ever-increasing tax burden,” said chamber president Patrick Giesbrecht.
“There is no doubt that the well-being of Abbotsford’s business community is affected significantly by this referendum decision. Securing a safe future source of water for our families as well as a myriad of local industry is vital to ensure continued growth in the city,” said Giesbrecht.
The chamber has noted the concerns raised, including allowing a private company to earn a profit by treating public water. However, it is calling upon opponents of the P3 to provide solutions.
"We strongly urge anyone who is opposed to not simply criticize, but to come up with a viable, alternative plan."
Giesbrecht said it is clear that the city needs a secondary water source, rather than depending on Norrish Creek for 80 per cent of its water supply.
"Future growth and development of our agriculture and manufacturing sectors are contingent upon the provision of water required in their processes."
Giesbrecht said he is aware of at least one major business that wants to expand, but will wait to see how the referendum turns out before investing more money
"It is imperative that the economic drivers in our community are guaranteed the resources they require to ensure the continued growth and development within those industries."
The city is planning to construct a new water source and treatment plant at Stave Lake at a cost of $291 million. The project will be a public-private partnership (P3) and a Nov. 19 referendum is needed to approve the plan.