As individuals, we often take care in ensuring we pay the least possible for goods and services we need. In the case of the Stave Lake water project, the decision voters need to make is difficult due to biased facts. I think a few issues need to be considered before Abbotsford taxpayers vote on this project.
Prior to this last proposal, there have been two previous reports on expanding the water system to include Stave Lake. How has the cost of the project risen so greatly from the Dayton and Knight estimate of approximately $81.5 million to the $300 million now proposed?
Why are we only presented with the P3 financing model for this project? A “value for money” analysis would have been used to compare the P3 and conventional financing methods for this project. This analysis can easily be manipulated to favour the P3 financing by reducing the discount rate. A properly done, independent analysis is necessary for council and taxpayers to make an informed decision.
In the Abbotsford / Mission area we have two MPs and four MLAs that are part of the ruling party of their respective governments. For the most part, these politicians have been notably silent about the Stave Lake water project. Is this because they wish to avoid having their constituents rightfully ask about federal and provincial funding for this project?
I’m not talking about the conditional P3 Canada funding, but traditional contributions to aid in infrastructure improvements. The town of Corner Brook, Newfoundland received $24 million in federal and provincial funding for their water system; this is a town of 27,000 compared with the 158,000 residents in Abbotsford/Mission. This is one of many examples of communities receiving non-conditional government funding for infrastructure projects involving water systems. Why have none of our politicians offered up any conventional funding for this project?
With these and other questions remaining unanswered, it seems a prudent choice would be to not rush into making an uninformed decision. We also need to demand our elected officials undertake an unbiased evaluation of the options available to bring Stave Lake on as a water source.
I imagine that Mission’s council and residents would welcome the opportunity to re-establish our partnership with Abbotsford and take this project on once an independent evaluation of the financing options has been done.