The City of Calgary is reportedly holding closed-door talks to explore privatizing its water system to have a third party to deliver water services.
According to information obtained by Metro and confirmed by other sources, the city is considering several options for water-service delivery.
The information stated city administration would be directed to seek private company delivery recipients such as EPCOR and/or ATCO Water, the latter of which was formed in October 2008.
Minutes from the city’s special strategic planning meeting on Jan. 20 indicate council talked about “servicing arrangements” and “provision of regional utility services.”
The meeting was, coincidentally, held in The Water Centre in the Bow River Conference Centre.
Information obtained by Metro states that water and sewer rates could increase by 25 per cent if a third-party provider is chosen.
But according to Scott Hennig of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, that may not be the case.
“I think it’s a good thing for Calgary to explore their options and get the city out of a business they probably don’t need to be in,” Hennig said.
Hennig said Calgarians would have to get used to having water meters to measure water consumption.
“Bottom line is when they turn on the tap, water will come out and as long as costs don’t skyrocket, I don’t think anyone will notice a difference,” he said.
The head of the Alberta Canadian Union of Public Employees sees a potential switch quite differently.
“I have not seen definite evidence yet that the city is going towards that route, but if they did, we would aggressively oppose it and bring citizens to the alert of the risks involved,” said D’Arcy Lanovaz, president of CUPE Alberta.
Edmonton currently operates its water services through EPCOR and while the city is the sole stakeholder, it runs the water much like a private business, said Hennig.
EPCOR and ATCO Water were contacted yesterday but did not return calls before press time.