Volte-face on water


janus facedOn Tuesday, Simcoe County Council voted to “… begin negotiations with the 16 municipalities regarding a “future role” for the upper tier in water and wastewater operations – a municipal domain.” The county wants to bring water and wastewater under its wing to standardize services and improve operating efficiencies much the same way it has done with housing and emergency services. Our deputy mayor voted in favour.

The only story so far on this appears in the New Tecumseth Free Press.*

Not a bad idea to explore, for public discussion and input, weigh the pros and cons. But the problem is that the issue of giving up control of the municipal service to an upper tier has not been given any attention in the local media. Nor have our county representatives – the mayor and deputy mayor – brought it to public attention, nor have they asked for public input or consultation on the issue.

And who gives the county report at the council table? That’s right: Deputy Mayor Saunderson.

Well, that doesn’t surprise you, of course. The Most Secretive Council Ever is always reluctant to tell the public anything. And public input? So far there has been absolutely NONE allowed this term on major issues such as selling our airport, privatizing our water and wastewater, selling our share of the electrical utility, Block 9, taking over water and IT services, the hospital redevelopment – so why would The Block want it now? Your opinion has never mattered to them.

But while the town is getting under the covers with the for-profit corporation EPCOR in a snug deal to privatize our water and wastewater services (in a 99-year lease?), our deputy mayor seems to have made an about-face. He voted in favour of the motion for the county to start the process to take over those services.

Without public input, of course. The best interests of this community? Not even a hint that that might be under consideration.

I wonder what EPCOR will think of this? After all, they’re busy preparing their sole-sourced offer to take over these services, and here the leader of The Block is voting against their interests. First the town courts EPCOR, then they as much as tell them to bugger off.

An inconsistent policy? Or simply hypocrisy? And we’ve seen so much of the latter, already this term.

What do his fellow Blockheads do now? After all, they follow his lead like sheep. Do they now also tell EPCOR to get stuffed and turn their alliance over to the county?

What does the administration think about this apparent change of heart? After the interim CAO made those saccharine sales pitches to staff about the benefits of EPCOR (with EPCOR representatives sitting in the room, noting the names of the opposition…), does he now go back to staff to sell them on county management?

Janus-faced. That’s the term used to describe an insincere politician who speaks from one side then another. The synonyms include, “artificial, backhanded, counterfeit, disingenuous, double-dealing, double-faced, duplicitous, fake, feigned, hypocritical, Janus-faced, mealymouthed, Pecksniffian, phony, phony-baloney, pretended, two-faced, unctuous.” Take your pick.

Collingwood deserves better.

* In fact, as far as I can see, the NTFP is the only local media to cover this issues, and in fact to cover county at all. Our local media? Silent as sheep on it.

(Here’s a twist… Did you know that the former CEO of EPCOR, Don Lowry, is on the Alectra board? That’s right: Alectra – the utility that formed when PowerStream merged with three other LDCs. The Block has vilified PowerStream for the past two years, harassed the Collus staff, and fought to get away from the company. And yet The Block is playing footsie with EPCOR in a sole-sourced deal to privatize our water services. Their former CEO is watching all of this from nearby in close association with the people from PowerStream. I’ll be he’s not impressed…)

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  1. Regina: City’s move to transfer septage responsibility to EPCOR questioned at committee

    “Anyone who knows businesses know they are not going to do things out of the kindness of their heart,” Elliott said. “They are there to make money and profits are the bottom line.”


    Sun City: Crumbling infrastructure: EPCOR, residents facing similar issues

    EPCOR Water Co. officials are seeking a rate increase to help cover costs of repairing or replacing wastewater main lines in the community. Water company officials estimate they will spend $500 million over the next 10 years updating infrastructure in the communities it serves.


    White Rock receives $11.8 million for water treatment
    Also announced on the city’s website Friday – but not raised at the earlier Merklin Street event – was that the city made an “advance payment” of $14 million to purchase the water utility from Epcor in 2015, and continues to work with the Edmonton-owned company on a final purchase price. (It was only revealed following the water-utility takeover that a price had yet to be agreed upon, and that the matter could be settled by arbitration.)


  2. Simcoe County municipalities express interest in regional water system:


    “Water and wastewater services are big-ticket items for our municipalities. This will be a collaborative approach to an area of concern to the majority of our municipalities that face continued and growing budgetary constraints.”

    A regional system is not a matter of if, but when, according to New Tecumseth Deputy Mayor Jamie Smith.

    Smith, who supported the motion, said there would be pros and cons to creating a regional system.

  3. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/epcor-drainage-proposal-doesn-t-hold-water-report-says-1.4064435
    EPCOR’s proposal to take over the city’s drainage utility just doesn’t hold water, according to a report released Monday.

    The report, commissioned and paid for by the Edmonton and District Labour Council and the Coalition of Edmonton Civic Unions, says the city must consider efficiency claims by EPCOR as well as how transparent and accountable EPCOR would be as owner of the drainage utility.

    EPCOR has claimed it can run drainage more cost-effectively than the city and those savings will be passed onto the city in the form of increased dividends.

    But the report says the city could achieve a substantial portion of the efficiencies itself.

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