Volume 94, Issue 71

Tuesday, January 30, 2001


Prez race begins - Seven vie for USC top spot

Braun sets sights on second term

Landlords ready for new rentals

Windsor big on campus issues

Queen's Park might privatize water

Perps dump poop on campus


Corroded Disorder

Queen's Park might privatize water

By Sarah Lasch
Gazette Staff

The Ontario government is contemplating changes to the water system which could leave water in the control of a private company.

Lynn Hamilton, spokesperson for Dan Newman, the Minister of Environment, said the government is looking at various options which will bring the best quality of services to the public, including private ownership, but added nothing is yet set in stone.

"Infrastructure has been neglected for the past 20 years," she said. "That's why we brought in our $20 billion SuperBuild fund to address decay in our highways, water systems and infrastructure."

Ainsley Wintripp, a communications representative for SuperBuild Corp., said the company represents a new way of looking at investments in provincial infrastructure. "It is a joint venture between the public and private sector that will see an influx of $20 billion for things such as hospitals, highways and water systems."

Wintripp said through SuperBuild, the Tory government will set in place initiatives such as the Small Town and Rural project, which will inject $600 million into communities in need of infrastructure improvements to key areas such as water and sewage systems.

But Liberal Member of Provincial Parliament and environment critic James Bradley, said he does not agree with the new Tory initiatives.

"One would assume with the Walkerton inquiry still going on that the premier would wait until recommendations are forthcoming before contemplating changes," Bradley said. "As usual he is moving far too quickly and far too recklessly."

"I'm very dubious about changes made to put the private sector in control of sewage and water treatment, he said, adding profit is not positive motivation when it comes to ensuring a quality public service.

Hamilton said the Tory government was forced to examine Ontario's water services before the end of the Walkerton inquiry in order to ensure the public's health and safety is addressed. "We anticipate more advice will come out of the inquiry," she added.

"There is never any harm in finding out facts," said Don Pearson, general manager of the Upper Thames Valley Conservation Authority. "It's important to make sure the standards are there and in competent hands."

He said recent events have left him worried about the protection of the public water supply. "The way private hands may manage the public interests is always a concern," he said, adding the current system, the Ontario Clean Water Agency, is quasi-private already.

Pearson said he is also concerned about the seeming lack of faith by the public in the government run system. "I'm troubled by the assumption that the public sector is not doing a good job because they are," he said adding the few obvious exceptions warrant examination.

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