I attended the Abbotsford council meeting on April 18, and observed the proceedings on the P3 Stave Lake water project. The council voted in the majority (two councillors against) to pursue a P3 funding application.
What I found perturbing was how little understanding the councillors and mayor displayed of the major issues surrounding a project which is probably the most expensive financial undertaking in the history of Abbotsford.
Issues such as how much it will cost over the long term. Critics of this project indicate that it will cost the public much more in the long term to have a private contractor operate the new facility. Other issues include accountability, control, and flexibility and international trade agreements.
If an issue arises where there is a conflict between public safety and profit, how can we be sure that the company priorities such as profit will not come first?
Some services are more amenable to privatization, but not water – it’s one of those services that should never be privatized, even for a temporary time frame.
I have some experience in managing contracts and can say that the longer the contract, the more difficult it is to maintain adherence to contract standards. I don’t believe a 25-year contract is in the best interests of Abbotsford taxpayers.
I attended the Mission council meeting on the same issue, and noted they turned down the option of pursuing a P3 funding application, mainly on the basis there was almost no public support.
Why do Mayor George Peary and Abbotsford council think they know better than the public on this issue?
The private consultant report supporting the P3 application was an 11-page summary with few details.
How can Mayor Peary and those council members who supported him make a decision on a quarter-billion dollar development and think it’s in the best interests of the public with so few facts available?
Another disturbing aspect was that one of the two Abbotsford councillors who voted against sending in an application for funding noted that there was a gentleman’s agreement between Abbotsford and Mission council representatives that one would not proceed without the other council’s support.
Should this agreement not be honoured, especially since the Stave Lake project would require that water supply lines would travel through Mission? I think Mayor Peary should be pursuing a collaborative approach with Mission rather than taking the route of we will do it ourselves.
One last point on this subject is that the P3 funding application does not guarantee Abbotsford taxpayers will receive any funding, and if funding is approved, it could be in the form of an outright grant, repayable grant or interest-free loan (reference Deloitte & Touche business case summary).
I believe more information needs to come out before Abbotsford taxpayers can make an informed decision.Surely there are other government funds available to assist with financing as opposed to putting all our hope in a dubious P3 application.
Mayor Peary’s position of “trust me, I know what I am doing,” is difficult to accept with so much money and complicated issues involved.