Council not supporting Abby bid

Mission council is not supporting Abbotsford in its bid to Public Private Partnerships (P3) Canada to develop an additional water source at Stave Lake.

The City of Abbotsford wanted Mission to send a letter to the federal agency stating it had no objections to Abbotsford proceeding independently with the project. Mission staff, who recommended council grant the request, say the letter isn’t an endorsement, but an acknowledgement that Mission would not object to allowing services on the district’s right of ways.

“Our position is very clear; we don’t support the P3 project,” said Mission Mayor James Atebe.

Not wanting to prejudice further planning and consultation requirements, the local council voted unanimously Monday night to simply receive Abbotsford’s request and not act on it.

But the decision does not put an end to the P3 water debate.

“If they chose to receive the request, then it may be brought up again,” said Tracy Kyle, Abbotsford’s director of water and solid waste.

While Mission may not support the project, Abbotsford could proceed with its plan.

If Abbotsford chose to legally create a utility, Mission would be unable to deny access to the water. But Kyle said there are no plans to go down that road.

“Our first choice is to work cooperatively with Mission.”

The P3 water project was originally a joint venture between the two cities. The plan was to create a new water supply at Stave Lake in Mission, complete with pump station and treatment plant.

The new supply would serve both communities and cost approximately $300 million. If the cities decided to build it as a P3 project, the federal government could provide up to 25 per cent funding (about $72 million).

However, protests against the idea of a public-private partnership, convinced Mission council to vote against the plan.

Abbotsford then chose to proceed with the P3 project, on a slightly smaller scale ($284 million), on its own.

Kyle said PPP Canada has received the city’s proposal and is currently looking over the business plan.

“They have reviewed the case and barraged us with questions.”

PPP Canada is set to discuss the plan during its June 8 board meeting and Kyle expects to hear back from them by the end of June.

– with files from Kevin Mills