Abbotsford’s P3 application goes ahead without Mission

Some quick alterations to the Stave Lake water project business case will have to be made by Abbotsford city staff, now that the District of Mission has dropped out of the proposed joint project.

Some quick alterations to the Stave Lake water project business case will have to be made by Abbotsford city staff, now that the District of Mission has dropped out of the proposed joint project.

The altered plan will be presented to council on April 18, and if approved, followed by an application for funding.

Abbotsford Mayor George Peary has confirmed with PPP Canada that it will still review the application despite the changes.

“They are still very interested in the idea,” he said.

On Monday, Mission rejected a plan to enter into a public/private partnership (P3) to create a fourth water supply to augment the publicly operated Norrish Creek, Cannel Lake and 19 wells that presently make up the two cities’ water system.

The proposal was to create a $300-million water treatment plant and pump station using a private conglomerate to build, design, finance and operate, under a 25-year agreement.

Tracy Kyle, Abbotsford’s director of water and solid waste, said the proposal is now a little smaller, closer to $284 million.

The new plan will eliminate the expansion of the Maclure reservoir and removes Cannel Lake water from being treated in the new plant.

Both of those projects will be addressed later, as part of the Abbotsford-Mission Water and Sewer Commission.

“We are adjusting the business case to reflect these changes and make it an Abbotsford-only project, separate from the water commission,” said Kyle.

Mission is only responsible for 12 per cent of the cost on joint capital projects, so while the dollar value may change, Kyle said the overall business case won’t be that different.

“My sense is that it will be strongly supported by council,” said Peary.

Contained within the staff report will be answers to 15 questions that were raised during Monday night’s council meeting. The public was invited to share its thoughts on the P3 issue, but many were unhappy that council refused to answer questions.

“If I had opened the floor up to questions, things would have got out of hand,” said Peary, who added people were already shouting at council members from their seats.

And there will be plenty of time for questions said Peary.

“People seem to forget, we are only voting on an application for funding.”

He said nothing will be decided until November, when the public has final say during a referendum.

“I’m sure P3 will be an election issue.”

In Mission, a rally was to be held yesterday afternoon to urge Mission council to keep water public. The event was planned at municipal hall by the group Water Watch Mission-Abbotsford (WWMA).

“We 100 per cent support council’s decision,” said rally co-organizer Janet Chalmers.

Concerns rose after rumours began circulating that Mission council would discuss the P3 issue at its in-camera meeting yesterday.

“We expect Mayor Atebe to stand up for Mission against the intolerable insults and threats by the mayor of Abbotsford. It’s our water and Mayor Peary has no right to bully us with our own resources,” said Chalmers in a press release.

The group is also pushing for a “made-in-Mission” public water plan.