No transparency in P3 deals

Since I occasionally sit in on committee meetings at City Hall, I am familiar with the rules – members of the public can listen, but unless they are part of a delegation they are not allowed to contribute to the meeting.

Since I occasionally sit in on committee meetings at City Hall, I am familiar with the rules  – members of the public can listen, but unless they are part of a delegation they are not allowed to contribute to the meeting.

The March 10 Water and Sewer Commission Meeting was even less accommodating.  Originally billed as an “Open Meeting Agenda”, I found when I arrived that a vote had been taken to eliminate citizens even as audience.  I was informed that a repeat of the meeting would be open to the public next Thursday.

Interesting.  Since the three “Ls” – law, labour and land – are the usual reasons for exclusion of the public, I checked out the agenda.  Not a single “L” on the list.  Made me wonder what was up.

From the 30 seconds or so that I was in the meeting room, I know that Thursday morning’s “delegation” was a presentation on P3s in relation to the supply of Abbotsford’s water.

If our council had a stellar track record as far as partnerships are concerned, I could perhaps rest easily.  If, for example, taxpayers hadn’t been on the hook for $2.6 million to keep the AESC afloat last year. Or if almost $500,000 hadn’t been required to keep up our part of the bargain with the owners of our local hockey team.

Those partnerships are small potatoes when compared to $500 million in upgrades we are told we need for water and sewer.

When, in attempting to underscore real HST costs to the taxpayer, I tried to find out what it cost to heat our new hospital, I was told that information was not available to me. When others have tried to get to the bottom of the Heat contract, same answer.

Once we enter a partnership to commodify water, we can give up on any hope for transparency.

Per-Green Dalton