Janet Gray’s Presentation to the CRD CALWMC

2010 February 26, by Chapter Council

February 25, 2010

Hello and thankyou for the opportunity today for public input regarding the decision before you about ‘procurement’ for wastewater treatment in the CRD.

My name is Janet Gray and I am representing KAIROS, a national and ecumenical environment and social justice initiative that has local and regional groups across the country. I am also a member of the Greater Victoria Water Watch Coalition and a resident of the Capital Regional District.

Leading up to World Water Day – March 22nd, 2006 – KAIROS Victoria and other members of the Greater Victoria Water Coaltion asked all thirteen municipalities of the CRD if they would sign a declaration about the importance of Water. We were thrilled to announce at the World Water Day event and in newspaper ads that day that 12 out of 13 municipalities signed the declaration. The declaration recognized the essential nature of water to all life and the declaration stated “ that water should be looked after by all levels of government to protect and conserve natural sources of water and that these governments would ensure that the delivery, management and regulation of water services remains a public responsibility, affordable and accountable to the citizens of this community”. Leadership and vision are essential elements of political life and the CRD has provided us with both in past.

We have so much to be proud of regarding the vision and leadership of the CRD. You have managed and operated one of the most pristine watersheds in the country. In our life time and the lifespans of our children we will all see growing problems and conflicts over access to water. All the problems will not be from the other side of the world, many will occur close to home. Let us never put our guard down regarding the safety, provision and public ownership of our water.

Well – water runs down hill !!!! The same water that runs through our watershed and out our taps – continues on through our bodies and out through the toilets and drains of the CRD – right now, into the ocean, and you, our elected leaders and staff, are making decisions that will last for generations about how the wastewater should be treated and who should be providing that service. I trust that you all are taking this decision very seriously and with the same foresight and knowledge that CRD leaders of the past gave to their decision to buy land and protect our watershed for the future benefit of our communities. It is all connected – water that is! Clean water in and clean water out.

I am concerned that we not put our public water and our wastewater into private hands. Private companies are failing all around us.

My husband went in to see a broker about our RRSP’s the other day. You know – that broker said he couldn’t guarantee anything to us these days about stocks or investments!!!! He said he couldn’t say if even some of our largest Canadian companies will thrive given the current financial melt down. The Royal Bank is a ‘hold’, Telus is a ‘hold or sell’. Will either be around in two years?

Why – two years ago – no one would have told you that Lehman Brothers would collapse –well it doesn’t exist anymore! The AIG rescue has cost the United States a fortune, as has Chrysler and Ford. Clearly – private companies fail ‘unexpectedly’ and the corporate world and financial systems are on very shaky ground. Who bails out private companies when they fail – we do – the public.

Greece is defaulting on its loans. Thanks to the privatization genius, Goldman Sachs. Italy, Portugal and Spain are next. Intrawest – the company who owns Whistler, the site of the 2010 Olympics, failed. It’s now for sale. Thank God the people of Whistler had the vision and leadership to keep their new state of the art Wastewater Treatment plant in public hands!!

Given the state of the economy here in 2010, who would put water and wastewaters at risk with a Public Private Partnership???? When you keep things in public hands they don’t fail.

Members of KAIROS and people the world over see water as a sacred trust. Wastewater is that water running downhill. Let’s keep our wastewater in public hands – we’ll need to pay up front but that way our investments are safe. It is for our future and our children’s future and it is worth it.

We trust that you our elected officials and leaders will have the vision, the common sense and our best interests at heart. We want you to govern the treatment of our wastewater and your staff to manage and operate it for the decades to come.

Don’t give it away.