Monday, November 28, 2022

Local advocacy group for public water infrastructure ownership makes plans for January forum

Fresh from a presentation to Prince Rupert City Council one week ago, the local organization that has concerns over the city's plans for water infrastructure is making its own plans to host a community forum on the issue. 

People for Public Infrastructure have set the date of January 21st for their next public engagement to the topic, though they have yet to decide on a venue for the proposed community forum.

As we recounted last week, both the local advocacy group and the City's Operations Director Richard Pucci provided for presentations at the Monday City Council session. 

The local group raising some alarm bells over the perceived direction they believe that the city may be taking towards its water infrastructure issues.

For its part, the City's Operations Director, City Manager and Mayor Herb Pond all stressed in there followup conversation that  no decisions have been made and how the topic is very much one in the very early stages of discussion.

As part of their commentary on the evening,  both Rob Buchan, City Manager and Operations Director, Richard Pucci did note of the many challenges facing the city towards development of a water treatment plant for the community.

The key areas of note that of they took note of include the need to finance the construction of the facility and to staff it. 

Those two issues it would seem that have given the Administration and Council pause to consider a private sector involvement in the still off in the distance water treatment plans.

As part of the discussion a number of councillors also observed how those discussions were still only in the preliminary stages, with no decisions yet reached.

A number of questions were posed of the proposal by Tom Kertes from People for Public Infrastructure, though they were not answered at Monday's session, those replies are to come to council at some point in the future.

Should Council move forward towards the plan for a private partnership, the City would create a municipal controlled corporation to administer the newly created infrastructure company.

You can review our account of both sides of that discussion from our notes of November 23rd.

As the local advocacy group works out its plans for the Community Forum, you can follow their progress here.

Some background on the proposed change to the current public ownership model can be reviewed below:

November 21 -- Community group presentation/report from Operations Director to put city's water treatment infrastructure plans into the spotlight  
November 15 -- Newly created Civic Action Group to seek presentation time with Prince Rupert City Council on public infrastructure concerns 
November 7 -- Newly formed Community group set to keep concerns over potential privatization of civic assets in public view
October 19 -- Concerns over city's water partnership plans spur on community organizing meeting in Prince Rupert 
October 18 -- City of Prince Rupert exploring prospects for partnership on Water Treatment Plant

A look at some of the ongoing infrastructure themes for the City of Prince Rupert can be explored through our archive page.


  1. This resident pays border line criminal taxes for the services I receive.
    After seeing our city struggle with the basics, bring on a private firm to assist so they can stop failing on basic civic deliverables.
    Basic failures include
    - Rolling out a delayed half recycling program
    - Overseeing 300+ days of boil water advisories during the dam rebuild
    - Failing to clear the streets/sidewalks last winter
    - Painting crosswalks only to resurface them the day after
    - Landfill cell cost overruns, and delays

    Some cities have been in the water business for hundred years, Kelowna is an example, here is the type of WWTF information they produce.

    Scroll through that report from Kelowna, and ask yourself if you think our city staff can perform this work from the ground up without outside help? If you think they can, start reading this post from the beginning.

    Banff is another example of a town that works with a company (Walker Environmental) that manages their water and organic waste programs. You don't hear a lot about it, maybe because it is working for Banff residents?

    The new water infrastructure will likely be amortized over 100 years, partnering with a firm for the first decade to understand best practices is not a bad idea.

    1. If we want our city to improve services and do a better job, then we can get engaged in the process. We can elect leaders who will do what is needed to improve things. But if the city enters into a decades-long deal with a private company, or takes utilities out of the municipality entirely, then there is little we can do in terms of oversight and transparency. If you think the city should do a better job, then get engaged in civic politics and make a difference. But don't sell off the city's assets to make a point. We rely on city services. We pay for city services. It's the job of residents to stand up for quality services and good fiscal management.

  2. Once again, a question. How many other communities in BC have a privatized water treatment and sewer treatment system? This is a question Mr. Pucchi should answer. When the city wanted residents to pay for lane repair, they said it is done in other cities put they did not expand. For water treatment the question should be answered.

    1. I looked that up and what I could find is that not many have them. Here is the source that I found:

      "Across Canada, privatized water systems are extremely rare."

    2. If the federal government is promoting it, count my vote against it. Any private company will be making a profit. The company will make big money on either design /construction or on the back end providing day to day operation. Either way the Prince Rupert taxpayers will never know.

    3. But not as rare as a city owning their own telecom monopoly.
      Still not sure how CRTC allows the Hermit Kingdom to do this.

    4. Why the city is thinking about going cap in hand to private investors in public infrastructure while keeping $46 million tied up in a telecom monopoly truly is one of life's mysteries.