Re: French Creek Residents’ Association’s push to have the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) buy the water system off Epcor.
I am agnostic as to whether I receive water service from government or private enterprise. I have issues with Epcor, but I don’t believe those issues will be resolved should the RDN be the new provider. It could be worse — remember Stage 4 summer restrictions elsewhere, while Epcor customers were on Stage 3?
There are two issues. Do you believe that water supply should be a public or private service? That is a philosophical discussion and can’t be debated here. Secondly, will the water service in French Creek be materially better, if someone other than Epcor ran it? The RDN, like every government, has the right to tax. This gives it multiple sources of revenue, restricted only by voter wrath. Epcor has one source, water rates, which are regulated by the Water Management Branch.
Benefits as stated from French Creek Residents Association (FCRA) if the RDN were to take over:
• Taxpayers would own the assets. Yes, depreciating assets, and no recognition of the significant present and future liabilities.
• Property owners would stop paying “excessive” interest costs, “unnecessary” capital costs and “profit.” Maybe, but rates change, capital expenditures are necessary to protect and improve existing assets and “profit” needs to be more clearly defined.
• Owners would be eligible for infrastructure grants when (if) they ever become available. Grants represent taxpayers money. It’s not like winning the lottery.
• RDN French Creek water service property owners should be able to join the utility at a low cost resulting in improved water quality. The FCRA has an issue with the quality of EPCOR water and it’s not clear how “low cost” and “water quality improvement” are achieved.
• Oceanside Strata should eventually be able to buy out their portion of the system more cheaply. Maybe, should many issues get resolved first.
Financial viability of my service provider is of a primary importance and unless you believe the Water Management Review System is corrupt I suspect the comptroller made the correct decision.
Wayne NevilleFrench Creek