Most of Council believes that its constituents are babies! Last night (April 4, 2011) Mission City Council handcuffed its residents on the upcoming referendum on the Abbotsford Mission Water Sewer Commission (AMWSC) proposal to bring Stave Lake online for our drinking water.
Mayor Atebe and Councillors Gidda & Horn stood their ground, but the rest were swayed by public pressure. The issue at hand was whether or not to apply for P3 (Private Public Partnership) so that they could have it as an option on the referendum. Even though I agree with the masses represented there that a P3 in this situation is not good for the residents of Mission, I still believe it is Council’s obligation to exhaust every option and present every option to the residents in the form of a referendum. Last night’s decision handcuffed resident’s ability to choose between a greater selection of options.
Councillor Jenny Stevens compared the use of a P3 grant on the referendum as to giving a kid a lollipop, letting them have a lick, and then taking it away. I’m sorry Jenny, but I’m offended by that comparison. As a resident of Mission, I do not like being compared to an undisciplined child. As a resident of Mission I would like to have all the options on the referendum so I can fairly evaluate every option.
Furthermore I believe that it is Council that is acting like kids as they have not had the maturity to actually be saving for a project like this (through DCC’s and other methods).
When it comes to the referendum, I am okay with the Stave Lake project (although I’d prefer Harrison as then we don’t have to deal as much with BC Hydro and we’d have even more water to draw from for generations). I am okay with a private design-build model, but because our water is so sensitive I want the operation and administration of it to be public.
On a few side notes: 1) The meeting went for 5.5 hours so the Ruskin Dam idea will be tabled until next Monday (April 11, 6:30pm at City Hall); 2) It was communicated that the use of Stave Lake will not inhibit recreational use of the area as all the water will run through a treatment plant; 3) Mission’s share of the project is approximately 12% (Abbotsford shoulders 88%); 4) The P3 grant would most likely be 25% ($72.1 million) of the project cost, but would require a private design-build-finance-operate (25 years) model.