Abbotsford council’s vote on a P3 water supply system will proceed, despite Mission’s rejection of the concept.
“That may be it for Mission, but we’ll still vote (on April 18) … We aren’t about to turn our backs on $70 million in funding,” Peary said Tuesday.
The Abbotsford-Mission Water and Sewer Commission had been looking at a P3 (Private Public Partnership) proposal to build a $300-million water supply and treatment plant at Stave Lake to augment the current publicly owned water system consisting of Norrish Creek, Cannel Lake and 19 wells.
On Monday, both councils were to vote on a motion to apply for federal funding worth almost $72 million. Abbotsford deferred its vote, while Mission narrowly defeated the final part of a four-part motion, blocking the P3 option.
Peary said Mission’s decision won’t affect Abbotsford’s vote.
“I won’t let the tail wag the dog … If they don’t want to participate in this venture, it’s their choice,” said Peary, who added Abbotsford could apply on its own, outside of the water commission.
“We may have to scale it down a little, but there are still options.”
He said Mission is still welcome as a partner, but they would have to pay 100 per cent of their costs.
“If we acquired funding, it would be for Abbotsford. Mission wouldn’t get a free ride,” said Peary.
He said the water issue hasn’t been solved, as a new source is still needed. Conservation may be a solution for a year or two, but eventually a new facility has to be built.
For a P3 project to become a reality, council approval would be needed to apply for funding, PPP Canada would have to accept the modified proposal, and ultimately, Abbotsford voters would have to give consent during a referendum in November.
If Abbotsford succeeds in creating its own water treatment plant, Peary said this city would supply water to Mission, if there was such a request.
“But they would pay the premium just like any other customer, rather than a partner.”
Peary said there will be a “very different” working relationship at the next water commission meeting.
As for Mission’s decision to opt out of the plan, Mayor James Atebe said Mission council received a “very clear message” from the community that a P3 was not welcome.
“I will be asking my staff to talk with Abbotsford to see where we can go from here,” he said. “We still want to pursue funding from higher levels of government.”
Atebe said the main concern of his community appeared to be the operating side of the P3. He believes people may be willing to consider a P3 agreement if it only involved designing, building and financing a Stave Lake supply and treatment system.
“People don’t want a private business running it … I won’t give up … we need a water system,” said Atebe.