Email us at


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Phil Lyons' Presentation to the CRD CALWMC

Feb. 25, 2010

It is coming up to decision time for CRD representatives on the procurement options for the new sewage system. As a citizen of the CRD and a member of the steering committee of the Greater Victoria Water Watch Coalition representing the Greater Victoria Seniors((OAPO191) , I feel that you should make the kind of decision here that provides the greatest protection for the taxcpayers , and accountability in such a project.

This protection., in my view , is best provided by the design–bid-build option on the left of the chart which was clearly the preferred option by the overwhelming majority of those who came to the public sessions last week. This is not an accident. The citizens do not believe that there is any way to get accountability into the P3 models offered. This is not addressed by the Partnerships B.C. preferred privatization model driven by the contracting process. We have found out that these contracts are not accessible to public scrutiny once they are signed in regard to the Abbotsford Hospital P3 ( see the B.C. Health Coalition website for ,ore information this) and the Port Mann Bridge P3 as well since the Provincial government and the companies insist that this is “proprietary” information and there fore not accessible through the F.O.I Act.

It might help if there had not been cutbacks in the Public Service of those positions that provided oversight in depth of the contracted service provisions in P3s. The PartnershipB.C. process is not able to supervise these contracts due at least partially to the conflicts of interest that are shown in their exorbitant bonuses and their history of involvement in the very companies that are bidding on contracts and providing reports to the CRD that are favourable to privatization.

The only solid claim that has been made for the P3 option is that of risk transfer from governments to corporations. Since this is done through a contracting process that is not enforceable ( See the Hamilton experiment) , the fall back position is to put the public partner in the position of saving the contactor from their own failings of finance and operation. Unless there is a real possibility of beefing up the enforcing provision at the CRD Level in these contracts, and the bidders would not sign such a contract , the electors will be faced with the opportunity of throwing out those elected representatives at the next election. Why not just take the over-exaggerated risk in Public hands and take your electoral risks that way rather than buying a pig in a poke that has a well-documented international history of failure in delivery.

There are also more details on the failure of P3s on these websites.- Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives and, for sewage , Greater Victoria Water Watch

Phil Lyons , Greater Victoria Seniors

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Michelle Coburn's Presentation to the CRD CALWMC

February 25, 2010

Michelle Coburn

Yesterday’s news included an item re the apology from Mr. Toyota- CEO of Toyota . He spoke before the U.S. Congress to apologize for the consequences of the manufacture by his company of faulty vehicles and the insecurity, accidents and recalls surrounding the product that bears his name. He said that this happened a result of too rapid expansion but more tellingly as he stated it was a consequence of prioritizing profit over the safety of Toyota customers.
A few days ago in an editorial in the Victoria Times Colonist it was pointed out that in the creation of the B.C. Ferry Company in 2003 a contract was drawn up that at no times includes information that states “There is no requirement or even provision, for the interests of ferry customers and local communities to be considered in setting rates or B.C. Ferries direction” In other words the profits “could be at the expense of the public service goals of the ferry system, local communities and taxpayers” .

I am here not a member of some special interest group. I do not have a profit motive, a political objective or a personal gain to make by becoming informed about the work this committee and staff are doing regarding the Procurement of a plan to develop the infrastructure project around sewage treatment. I am concerned about the future of the environment and the world my children and grandchildren will inherit. The people I have met and conversations that have evolved around water and environmental issues are wide ranging and not at all what I expected to become involved in three and a half years ago when we moved to back to Victoria after 40 years in Toronto. But I met Dorothy Clippingdale who was trying to get interested people together with a concern focused around water issues here. And so I am here to take advantage of the opportunity offered by you to comment on the procurement plans you are developing re sewage treatment. Yesterday I was present and did get the impression that not only are you moving forward in this area but it does seem that the work presented to the public around site selection is still partly a work in progress and I only hope the glacial speed of this project does not mean it will not happen in my lifetime.

I have used the internet to research the players in this project- stakeholders who have profit as their driving motive and find it somewhat concerning that the province- particularly through Partnerships B.C. has a huge amount of control over the process you are supposedly using our tax dollars to pay for. I learned that it was established to promote P3s for large infrastructure projects the province contributes to. I learned its CEO gets a bonus for every P3 project signed. - will it (partnerships B.C.)really help you to draw up a good contract for a Public option when it has as its mandate and is rewarded when the P3 option gets signed? I also learned that Ernst and Young ,who are doing the procurement plan and have their own interest in P3s , were on a list of 4 similar firms you were given to choose from by the province to develop this plan . I am sure since the CRD is paying for this business case the report is made to you but there appears to me that there is a perception of a biased report and I wonder who is presenting a business case for a Public plan. As the ferry service has declined and is affecting us on the island I am concerned that the a profit motive may drive the procurement plan and at the open house with the opportunity to see the plans laid out it was difficult to get a clear sense of options and costs when considering that site selection and actual how and what will be done is still unresolved. I realize there is a peer review panel and looked up the members- their biographical profiles are not without expertise and yet I do have a few concerns when I read one worked for 18 years for Ernst and Young and would have been happier not to have seen that apparent closeness, though it could of course be beneficial for communication also and the peer review .

I want to refer back to my two opening points. First there is nothing wrong with profit. There is a difference when it is a community utility that is caring for our Liquid waste treatment and the linkage to water cannot be severed totally from that.There is a distinct benefit for the local economy when the CRD hires locally based contractors to work on their projects they are part of who we are and accountable to us as neighbours unlike a large offshore corporation who return profits to their shareholders. Permanent employees of the CRD deliver us safe water I trust them to do the same with the sewage treatment structures. I would like to see the project done in a total- traditional design and build model but the control of this must be here and in your hands. That contracting will be complex and require expertise is obvious, that profit driven large companies from offshore with a duty to shareholders and personal gain for company executives will lead, I can only believe, to the advantage being not for the local people and the contracts will reflect that. In my learning about governments of the ilk that we call neo-liberal in this global world it has been helpful to see the pressures from the provincial and federal governments you face are not unique . Good governance and wide management of our water resources (of which this liquid waste management plan is a part )will lead to safety and control remaining in public hands only if the planned project is moved forward by you as a Public not for profit utility. The contracts and regulations will be for ours and future generations to modify as knowledge and research develops, local contractors and our educational institutions can benefit because they can be active stakeholders and will be returning to the community in which they live the benefits they may accrue. Knowledge from the poor contract between B.C. ferries and its real clients should be a warning, knowledge of the consequence of Toyota can tell us that profit before safety of your product can be the consequence of large for profit driven companies. I have spoken to many people with the common response being Sewage treatment and the water it connects with must be kept in Public hands.

CRD public meeting - Have your say on public sewage treatment!

Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Time: 4:00pm - 6:45pm
Location: CRD Board Room, 6th Floor, 625 Fisgard Street, Victoria, B.C.

The Capital Regional District is voting on whether the new sewage treatment project is going to be public or private at the end of March.
On March 10 there is an important public meeting of the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee in Greater Victoria.
Your chance to come and show your support for public sewage treatment. If you can, please register to speak at
For more information on the issue and ways to get involved please check out the following links:

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ian Crawford's Presentation to the CRD CALWMC

Feb. 25, 2010

Good Evening to all members of the Committee. I am Ian Crawford, a retired teacher, aircraft mechanic, community development worker and a big fan of clever design.

I know you work hard on behalf of all citizens of our district, - you receive the smallest portion of my tax dollar - and stretch it to provide the bulk of the services most valued by area citizens.

I think it would be more accurate to call this body the Core Area Liquid Resource Management Committee. You have considered several aspects of sewage as a resource but there is more. I will come back to that.

I want to tell you briefly, my five reasons for keeping the purchase of this major project public.

We must not allow the surrender of municipal authority to corporate control. Privatization of a municipal responsibly will put this service under the rules of NAFTA. Hidden in the 900 pages of the North American Free Trade Agreement are clauses that will put at risk, public control of all aspects of water removal and delivery in our municipalities. You have a major responsibility to protect municipal government from loss of power and erosion to corporations. Please consider seeking legal advice on this issue.

The 2nd consideration for me is that private corporations do not have to reveal information about their economic or environmental actions. Private control will mean decisions will be made in corporate head offices - not at city hall. We will not be privy to those meetings and decisions. Private corporations answer to their shareholders, not the taxpayer.

3rd Many studies show P3's are from 30 to 130% more costly than the traditional public project acquisitions. I have not seen any evidence that shows a P3 that proved cost or risk effective for the taxpayer. When private corporations face difficult economic times they may seek bankruptcy protection to avoid their contractual commitments for continued services and environmental protection. Private financing is more expensive because lenders know corporate partners are risky – you just have to look at last year's economic meltdown to see the risk.

4th Public operation offers local people good jobs in the community which enhances our area's resilience. This is sensible sound governance and is money well spent.

5th We must remain as flexible as possible and not lock ourselves into decades long contracts with private corporations. Loading inflexible long-term debt onto our children denies them the opportunity to shape their future community. I think our young people need to have the opportunity and flexibility to find ways to put our liquid waste to better use.

I have two short stories on flexibility. Forty years ago I worked with the Canada-BC Okanagan Watershed Study. Two cities made decisions about sewage.

Pentiction was sold a tertiary treatment plant which was costly to capitalize and operate. The solids were removed and the effluent a was pumped into a canal that drained to Skaha Lake. Within a few years, bathers at the northern beach contracted skin rashes. Health Authorities posted the beach “off limits”. The nitrogen rich effluent caused so much growth of plant life that fishermen and boaters were thwarted - Bad for business. Pentiction Businesses petitioned to have the weeds removed by a mechanical harvester, at an ongoing cost to the taxpayer.

The city councillors in Vernon at the north end of Okanagan Lake developed a plan to use secondary treatment and then sprayed the liquid onto fields. This produced two gorgeous alfalfa crops a year – a boon for the taxpayers and the environment.

I was fortunate to visit China in the last century. I saw first hand how the Chinese people have been feeding themselves on the same lands for forty centuries. They recycle their sewage to their soils. They are cognizant of the health hazards and take the necessary steps to neutralize health risks. Canadian fertilizers are produced from fossil fuels. With peak oil close at hand we might be wise to examine how to enhance our fertilizer needs.

In conclusion

Please make wise decisions about financing this project, one that keeps control in municipal hands, not with an international corporation, and one that allows flexibility for future generations to benefit from this resource.

We citizens want our municipal government to stand up and say no to the pressures of the senior governments to enter into P3 agreements.

I appreciate your good management and hard work in making this part of Canada such a wonderful place to live.

Thank you.

Janet Gray's Presentation to the CRD CALWMC

February 25, 2010

Hello and thankyou for the opportunity today for public input regarding the decision before you about ‘procurement’ for wastewater treatment in the CRD.

My name is Janet Gray and I am representing KAIROS, a national and ecumenical environment and social justice initiative that has local and regional groups across the country. I am also a member of the Greater Victoria Water Watch Coalition and a resident of the Capital Regional District.

Leading up to World Water Day - March 22nd, 2006 - KAIROS Victoria and other members of the Greater Victoria Water Coaltion asked all thirteen municipalities of the CRD if they would sign a declaration about the importance of Water. We were thrilled to announce at the World Water Day event and in newspaper ads that day that 12 out of 13 municipalities signed the declaration. The declaration recognized the essential nature of water to all life and the declaration stated “ that water should be looked after by all levels of government to protect and conserve natural sources of water and that these governments would ensure that the delivery, management and regulation of water services remains a public responsibility, affordable and accountable to the citizens of this community”. Leadership and vision are essential elements of political life and the CRD has provided us with both in past.

We have so much to be proud of regarding the vision and leadership of the CRD. You have managed and operated one of the most pristine watersheds in the country. In our life time and the lifespans of our children we will all see growing problems and conflicts over access to water. All the problems will not be from the other side of the world, many will occur close to home. Let us never put our guard down regarding the safety, provision and public ownership of our water.

Well – water runs down hill !!!! The same water that runs through our watershed and out our taps - continues on through our bodies and out through the toilets and drains of the CRD - right now, into the ocean, and you, our elected leaders and staff, are making decisions that will last for generations about how the wastewater should be treated and who should be providing that service. I trust that you all are taking this decision very seriously and with the same foresight and knowledge that CRD leaders of the past gave to their decision to buy land and protect our watershed for the future benefit of our communities. It is all connected – water that is! Clean water in and clean water out.

I am concerned that we not put our public water and our wastewater into private hands. Private companies are failing all around us.

My husband went in to see a broker about our RRSP’s the other day. You know - that broker said he couldn’t guarantee anything to us these days about stocks or investments!!!! He said he couldn’t say if even some of our largest Canadian companies will thrive given the current financial melt down. The Royal Bank is a ‘hold’, Telus is a ‘hold or sell’. Will either be around in two years?

Why - two years ago – no one would have told you that Lehman Brothers would collapse –well it doesn’t exist anymore! The AIG rescue has cost the United States a fortune, as has Chrysler and Ford. Clearly - private companies fail ‘unexpectedly’ and the corporate world and financial systems are on very shaky ground. Who bails out private companies when they fail – we do – the public.

Greece is defaulting on its loans. Thanks to the privatization genius, Goldman Sachs. Italy, Portugal and Spain are next. Intrawest – the company who owns Whistler, the site of the 2010 Olympics, failed. It’s now for sale. Thank God the people of Whistler had the vision and leadership to keep their new state of the art Wastewater Treatment plant in public hands!!

Given the state of the economy here in 2010, who would put water and wastewaters at risk with a Public Private Partnership???? When you keep things in public hands they don’t fail.

Members of KAIROS and people the world over see water as a sacred trust. Wastewater is that water running downhill. Let’s keep our wastewater in public hands - we’ll need to pay up front but that way our investments are safe. It is for our future and our children’s future and it is worth it.

We trust that you our elected officials and leaders will have the vision, the common sense and our best interests at heart. We want you to govern the treatment of our wastewater and your staff to manage and operate it for the decades to come.

Don’t give it away.


Roberta Cory's Presentation to the CRD (Capital Regional District) CALWMC (Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee)

(Presented on Feb. 25, 2010 at the CRD public meeting on procurement of a sewage treatment system for Victoria, BC)


I have given a lot of thought to what I can say in a few minutes that has not already been said by those before me. The only issue that really matters here is Democracy. I am outraged that the provincial government lobbies on behalf of private corporations and not on behalf of the citizens of British Columbia. That is a perversion of Democracy. So what do we mean when we still call Canada a Democracy? The word is still there in the textbooks. Should we expunge the word “Democracy” from the school books or should we make it a fact by practicing it?
Democracy depends upon an educated and informed public. Freedom of speech, a critical media which discloses the truth, and an excellent public school system are essential.
In a Democracy, power comes from the bottom, the people, and is handed up according to the will of the majority. Politicians are just administrators.
In a Democracy, there are needs which cannot be met by individual effort alone. Citizens must come together to build and operate projects which benefit everyone equally. Citizens decide to tax themselves to pay for them. They are proud of what they have created. They can say, “Together, we did this.” In a Democracy, people do not feel that taxation is robbery. There is no “They” doing a number on “Us.” There is a sense of we, ours, us. We want this, it is ours, it benefits all of us. We will try hard not to waste our money. If we have a problem, we will fix it.
P3 stands for public private partnership. That is a misnomer. There is no partnership. That is because the public and the private components have opposite agendas. An international corporation has a mandate to make a profit for its stockholders. It wants to benefit in any way it can from our money and our resources. It wants to be our parent. It wants us to become children. “Don’t ask. We know what’s best.” Democratic institutions must remain transparent. In a Democracy citizens have a right to know who is doing what with their money and resources. A corporation does not have to open its books. It does not have to work on behalf of the citizens at all.
Today public education, health care, and utilities are all threatened by state sponsored propaganda which erodes the public’s confidence in itself and its own power to provide for its needs. Off all these, any project dealing with water is on the front lines of this war on Democracy. Sewage is mostly water and the end product of treatment is actually a resource. All over the world corporations are buying up sources of water because water is becoming scarce and is unequally distributed. Victoria’s sewage treatment would be a plum for a private corporation, and a foot in the door for attaining further resources. This is where Democracy must take its stand.
Privatization of those things which should be operated by the public in the public’s best interest leads to a “They” “Us” mentality. As the “Us” loses more and more control of its fate, apathy or anger is the result. Neither is healthy or productive. Both attitudes are corrosive to our social cohesion. We stand to lose much more than just the opportunity to design, build, and operate a sewage treatment plant here in Victoria. We have to stand together and defend that which is precious to us. Democracy.

Roberta Cory

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Next Monthly Board Meeting

Board Meeting: Tues. March 9, 2010, 7-9 pm BCGEU Building, 2994 Douglas St.

All members of the Council of Canadians are welcome, as long as they are invited or approved ahead of time as attendees by the board. If you are not a board member, and you wish to attend, and/or if you have items you would like to have added to the agenda, please contact us at least a week in advance of the meeting.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ad in Monday Mag (Feb. 18, page 7)

(Click on the images to get the pdf versions.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

H2Oil A documentary about the Alberta tarsands

Victoria Premiere
Type: Music/Arts - Opening
Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Time: 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: Victoria Event Centre
Street: 1415 Broad Street Upstairs (elevator access) Doors at 5.30pm
City/Town: Victoria, BC

Is water more important than oil?

H2Oil follows a voyage of discovery, heartbreak and politicization in the stories of those attempting to defend water in Alberta against the expansion of the largest industrial project in human history: the tar sands. With hope and courage, this moving documentary tells the story of one of the most significant, and destructive projects of our time.

Loaded Pictures, Canada 2009

For more info and trailer visit

Will Horter (Executive Director, Dogwood Initiative), Drew Mildon (Aboriginal Rights Lawyer, Woodward & Co), Mel Bazil (Wet'suet'en Nation) via skype and moderator Chris Tollefson (University of Victoria Faculty of Law).

Sponsored by Dogwood Initiative and R.A.V.E.N.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Next Monthly Board Meeting

Board Meeting: Wed. Feb. 17, 2010, 7-9 pm BCGEU Building, 2994 Douglas St.

All members of the Council of Canadians are welcome. If you are not a board member, and you wish to attend, and/or if you have items you would like to have added to the agenda, please contact us at least a week in advance of the meeting.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Documentary Film: Tapped

Tapped - a documentary about bottled water
Victoria Premiere

Date:Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Time:7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location:Victoria Event Centre
Street:1415 Broad Street Upstairs (elevator access) Doors at 5.30pm
City/Town:Victoria, BC
From the producers of 'Who Killed the Electric Car', this timely documentary reveals the unregulated world of an industry that aims to privatize and sell back the one resource that ought never become a commodity: water.

From the plastic production to the ocean where too many bottles end up, this inspiring documentary is a powerful portrait of the lives affected by the bottled water industry, caught at the intersection of big business and the public's right to water.

(Atlas Pictures, USA 2009).

For more info and trailer visit

Sponsored by the Greater Victoria Water Watch Coalition

Please stay tuned for post-screening discussion guest details!

Victoria Event Centre
1415 Broad St (elevator access)
Doors open at 5.30pm
Cash bar, food concession, door prizes & more!
$10 suggested donation