Public Values

Powell River community forms water watch coalition

Members believe that ownership, operation and management of water and water-related utilities must remain in the hands of the public.

Locals shocked at proposed co-treatment of municipal sewage in the Catalyst Powell River mill.Several concerned community groups in Powell River, BC have come together to form the Powell River Water Watch Coalition. These groups were shocked by the City of Powell River's surprise announcement in April 2010 that they had reached an Agreement in Principle with Catalyst Paper including the co-treatment of municipal sewage in the Catalyst Powell River mill. The great speed and total lack of public consultation or input for this agreement is "extremely alarming".

CUPE joins coalition

The coalition includes CUPE Local 798 (Powell River municipal, regional and library workers), the Sierra Club, the local chapter of the Council of Canadians and the 3 ratepayers associations - Townsite, Wildwood and Cranberry. These groups have come together to fight what spokespersons call a "high risk" and "poorly thought out" plan, and to demand that the City keep the sewage system public.

"CUPE's involvement and support for the community's effort is absolutely critical to our success," says Murray Dobbin, from the Powell River chapter of the Council of Canadians. "Its long experience and knowledge about water issues is a huge help."

All the coalition members believe strongly that ownership, operation and management of water and water-related utilities must remain in the hands of the public. The deal struck between the City of Powell River and Catalyst Paper will put Powell River's wastewater treatment in the hands of a private corporation whose only duty is to maximize shareholder return, not answer to taxpayers.

Petition and campaign

The coalition is circulating a petition, handing out information on the deal at various locations around the community, and putting up posters about "Why the deal stinks". The coalition will also be holding a public meeting to discuss the issue.

The coalition website,, includes numerous city documents related to the deal including the AIP itself and the feasibility study. Also available on the site are a library of privatization resources and Powell River documents.

Links and sources
  Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
  The coalition website

Posted: June 11, 2010

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