If you’re wondering what’s wrong with handing over our water to a P3 (Public Private Partnership), look no further than the City of Abbotsford.
The discovery that our city has already carried out a poll to garner support for the Stave Lake P3 water project illustrates the problem.
A lack of transparency, consultation, financial disclosure and open democratic process are hallmarks of private corporate practice with public resources.
All of those apply here, even at this early stage in the process of trying to sell us on a private for-profit P3.
Only after several inquiries from local media and Water Watch did the city manager even admit the city commissioned a poll – which, by now, has likely already been completed.
The questions asked in the poll have not been made public.
Even though this is a publicly-funded poll seeking input from Abbotsford residents, those same residents aren’t allowed to see the questions.
In other jurisdictions (including the City of Vancouver) the norm is to make the questions of a public poll public – available from the city clerk and on the city’s website for all to see.
The City of Abbotsford has declined to say who authorized the poll, who made up the questions, or how much the poll is costing taxpayers.
City manager Frank Pizzuto does admit that it was not approved by city council.
The process has ensured that the results will be tainted.
Water Watch Mission-Abbotsford has heard from several residents who were contacted by phone and say they were asked questions that were clearly biased in favour of P3s.
They were also reportedly even asked how they voted in recent elections.
The lesson seems to be that the first thing to go in a Public Private Partnership is us – the Public.
Water Watch Mission-Abbotsford