A question I have been asked on numerous occasions is, “If we vote “No” on the Stave Lake referendum, then what?”
This is a good question. Let me answer it directly.
The voters of Abbotsford, and all candidates for City Council, except the incumbents, have not been given all the facts. We have been left with more questions than answers. Why? Local government must be transparent; it must answer the hard questions. City Council must not only be trustworthy, but appear to be trustworthy.
If the referendum is defeated on November 19, and if I am elected, I would immediately push hard for City Council to:
- Reengage our neighbor, Mission, in discussion. Other local governments need to be consulted as well. Our water needs are not a local issue; they are a regional issue and must be solved regionally.
- Immediately freeze the water rates until a clear and understandable direction has been determined.
- Obtain a peer review of the Stave Lake plan.
- Instruct City staff to gather the baseline data from the new smart meters for a full 12 months.
- Carefully examine the underlying assumptions that went into the City’s forecasts that projected increases from 2007 – 2011 of 15%, while ignoring ACTUALS decreases of 33%, despite population increases and new businesses.
- Hold a series of public meetings (October 2012), with full disclosure of all the known facts, alternatives and recommendations as to how to address both our short term (2020 – 2025) and long term (beyond 2025) water needs.
- Install a second pipe (existing pipe limits flow to 90MLD) to utilize the full capacity of the existing treatment plant, which is capable of handling 117 MLD. The addition of a second pipe would also create the redundancy issue that the City has raised.
- Proceed, based on the cost/benefits, with upgrading the Norrish treatment plant from the current 117 MLD to 141.5 MLD (as referenced in the AMWSC Water Master Plan, page 8-3), which would utilize the full capacity of the existing Licensing Agreement.
If these options are chosen, our total water capacity would be 190 MLD per day, approximately double our current Peak Water usage and triple the current Average Daily use. This would allow for ample growth for the foreseeable future at a much lower cost than the Stave Lake plan.
What are the downsides? There is really only one. The capital works would not be undertaken on a P3 model, and therefore would not be eligible for monies from PPP Canada. However, reduced costs and Mission’s contribution would more than offset this, and together both cities would have less debt to carry.
Contrary to the “Vote Yes” promotional campaign mounted by the City at the taxpayer’s cost, there are alternatives that need to be explored, questions to be answered and information to be disclosed. Answering “yes” to an indecipherable 185 word referendum will not get the questions answered. We, citizens of Abbotsford, need open government in order to make informed decisions for a better future