Abbotsford will release water poll results in coming weeks

Results from the city's phone poll on the proposed P3 water project will be released to the public in the coming weeks.

Abbotsford Mayor George Peary confirmed on Tuesday the city has received the results from the independent polling company and, after examining the information, will make it public.

"It's public domain information," said Peary, adding the results will be released as "part of a package."

Water Watch Mission-Abbotsford spokesperson Lynn Perrin spoke before council on Monday night. Water Watch asked council for several requests

Water Watch Mission-Abbotsford spokesperson Lynn Perrin spoke before council on Monday night. Water Watch asked council for several requests

Results from the city’s phone poll on the proposed P3 water project will be released to the public in the coming weeks.

Abbotsford Mayor George Peary confirmed on Tuesday the city has received the results from the independent polling company and, after examining the  information, will make it public.

“It’s public domain information,” said Peary, adding the results will be released as “part of a package.”

“I know it isn’t coming out fast enough for the Water Watch people … but we intend to gather up as much data as possible so we can answer the questions people have,” he said.

On Monday, about 15 members of Water Watch Mission-Abbotsford came to city hall to listen as spokesperson Lynn Perrin addressed council and made three demands. One of those was to release the polling information.

In her presentation, Perrin asked for all the survey questions, who framed the questions, the cost and the process that led to the poll. She added some residents felt the poll was “tainted by biased questions.”

Water Watch also wants to know what the city’s publicity plans are for the Stave Lake P3 proposal.

The city is proposing to create a new water supply system at Stave Lake in Mission. The proposal calls for a P3 (public-private partnership) agreement to construct and run a water treatment plant for the next 25 years. The cost of the new project is estimated to be $284 million, but if a P3 agreement is reached, the federal government, through PPP Canada, could provide up to 25 per cent of the financing.

The city has applied for the P3 funding, but is still waiting for confirmation.

In July, the city commissioned a poll on the P3 water issue to gauge public opinion and knowledge.

Water Watch is against the concept of private business involvement in a public endeavour as important as water.

Perrin also asked council to follow the District of Mission’s lead and endorse a UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities) resolution to protect water and keep it in the hands of the public sector and to keep Abbotsford taxpayers informed of the status of the P3 application, on an ongoing basis.

“The city has been silent,” said Perrin. She said she was unaware of any public information meetings that have been held to keep people informed.

“We want council to listen to the public … and the public should be given a collaborative role,” said Perrin.

Council voted to receive the delegation, but did not answer any of its requests.

After the meeting, most of the Water Watch members were waiting outside council chambers for the mayor to emerge.

“We are waiting for an answer,” one of them yelled out.

“You’ll get it … in due time,” replied Peary.

He later told The News that council would discuss the presentation and prepare an official response.

As for the PPP Canada funding, Peary said they have received some positive feedback from the organization, but no decision has been announced.

“That will come from Ottawa,” he said, not from the city.

However, Peary said the two referendum questions – one asking for public consent to borrow money for the new water project and the other asking for consent to enter into a P3 agreement – should also be released in the next few weeks.

A referendum – to be held on Nov. 19, the same day as the municipal elections – is needed before the Stave Lake project can be approved.