The Council of Canadians applauds the decision by the people of Abbotsford this weekend to reject a public-private partnership for a proposed water facility. In the referendum, 74 per cent of voters rejected the proposed Stave Lake project.
“This is a significant victory for public water services in Canada,” says Council of Canadians national chairperson Maude Barlow. “Communities across the country are demanding open dialogue and protection of public water systems. And we trust now that all levels of government are listening.”
The P3 Stave Lake project would have cost $291 million - the largest privately financed undertaking in the water sector in Canada to date. The vote on Saturday was significant beyond Abbotsford as it would have set a dangerous precedent in Canada.
“Water is a commons," says Ava Waxman, BC-Yukon organizing assistant for the Council of Canadians. "The people of Abbotsford not only have a right to safe and clean drinking water, they also have a right to participate in decisions affecting their drinking water."
The city spent more than $200,000 on a one-sided campaign promoting the P3 project. The city's website claimed that current water supply would not be able to meet demands after 2016. However former Abbotsford Chief City Engineer Ed Regts highlighted that current water sources were not even close to capacity and were more than able to provide water for Abbotsford until at least 2023.
“The results of this referendum are clear," says Emma Lui, Council of Canadians water campaigner. "We call on the federal government to provide funding for publicly-owned water and wastewater infrastructure and to stop requiring the involvement of for-profit corporations in our water services."