Mission’s relationship with Abbotsford is strong, according to Mayor James Atebe, despite the neighbours going a different route on a water system.
Abbotsford residents will vote Nov. 19 on a referendum whether to move forward with a private public partnership (P3) that will access $65.7-million in federal grant money for a water system using Stave Lake as its source. Mission council decided April 4 it would not partner with Abbotsford on the project due to Mission residents’ concerns about water potentially being managed by a private corporation.
As well, Atebe says Mission hadn’t finished “doing its homework” on the proposal, and therefore couldn’t support the idea.
“That decision stands,” he said.
If Abbotsford voters give the city the go-ahead, an extensive public consultation process will follow given infrastructure will need to be installed through Mission to reach across the Fraser River.
“I personally believe Abbotsford will have to work very collaboratively with Mission,” Atebe offered.
Mission’s water demands are not as pressing as Abbotsford’s, he continued.
“Mission has options,” said Atebe. “Our water source is sufficient for now. Abbotsford is in a more critical situation than we are. Council doesn’t believe Mission is in the same pressure cooker.”
District staff is currently exploring other alternatives.
The City of Abbotsford is spending $200,000 on a public awareness campaign to promote the benefits and necessity of going the P3 route. The municipality has said the current water supply will not be adequate after 2016. And while contentious, Mission’s mayor maintains there has been no souring between the municipalities.
“This is only one issue. We still continue to have a very strong relationship with Abbotsford,” including discussions about shared transit, sewer and healthcare.