Water issue raises questions for Alberni reader

Alberni readers poses critical questions about Beaver Creek water issue.

To the Editor,

What’s with Beaver Creek Improvement District leading taxpayers down the garden path to privatizing our drinking water?

On June 2, I sent a request to BCID, under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, to access information about the proposed P3 agreement.

Earlier in the year, at BCID’s annual general meeting, the private water utility told meeting participants that their proposal to meet the government’s 4-3-2-1 surface water treatment policy included an 8.9 per cent return on investment. I wanted to know what that equated to in terms of dollars over the period of the 21-year agreement. I also wanted other information about the proposal.

About six weeks later, I received a response. Some of the questions I asked remained unanswered. The opening paragraph of the letter said “the numbers” were “as transparent as [BCID] could make them at [the] time.” I wouldn’t doubt it if it’s as transparent as it gets.

In the response, BCID stated the company’s total return on investment would amount to “$3.3 million.”

I then calculated the long-term cost of keeping drinking water in the public domain. The cost of privatizing our drinking water is huge in comparison to the cost of keeping it in public hands. The private water utility estimated the long-term cost for the project to be about $37 million.

For drinking water to remain in public hands it will cost between $16 to $24.5 million depending on whether BCID becomes part of a region-wide water system or continues on its own with treatment at the Stamp River intake. The difference between the two is staggering.

Does someone, in addition to the private water utility, stand to make a high return with low risks at the long-term expense of Beaver Creek taxpayers?

Susan E. Roth,

Beaver Creek