by Daphne Ross I am following the plans and decisions of City of Powell River council as they pertain to the water rights in Powell River. One documentary that explains the global impact of water rights is called Blue Gold: The Water Wars. This can be viewed on YouTube as well as on DVD.
The documentary describes how cities have lost control of water rights and in one case was even forbidden to collect rain water. Citizens had no say in the decision their city made to go into partnerships with global companies to own water rights in their area. Once the citizens decided to stand up and protest the government shot them. Many examples from all over the world are documented. Multi-national corporations are buying up water rights and are making more money owning water than they do with gold or oil.
I was impressed by the documentary but didn’t see any relationship to our local events until I began to follow the information that is being distributed by City of Powell River and Powell River Water Watch.
The city has put forward a business plan, dated October 7, 2010, in which it proposes to reduce taxes for Catalyst Paper Corporation and pay Catalyst to treat liquid waste. It is widely known that the BC Liberal government is encouraging public-private partnerships where the benefits are for the companies not for members of the public. BC Hydro and BC Ferries are more examples of the provincial government’s trend to be in partnership with private enterprise. Studies have been done on the success of public money used for private enterprise and the result is always that it is least costly to keep resources in public control.
In reviewing the business plan, I also noticed the table which shows the increase in taxes for property owners and the decrease in taxes for major industry. I was completely surprised to see that in 1999 residential taxes were 33.72 per cent and major industry was 54.9 per cent. Last year residential taxes were 61.42 per cent and major industry were 17.9 per cent. For many years major industry has not been paying its fair share and we are picking up the slack. Perhaps we are so busy trying to make ends meet that we are not paying attention to how decisions are affecting our lives.
It’s not too late to make sure the decision makers are aware of your opinions regarding the future of your community and your tax base. Go to Powell River Water Watch and sign the petition in the mall, write to Mayor Stewart Alsgard and city council and attend the open house session on May 10 and dialogue event May 17.
The Canadian European Trade Agreement, that is currently being negotiated behind closed doors, will allow European multi-national companies access to our natural resources and may impact this agreement that city council wants to procure with Catalyst. It sounds very dangerous to me and important enough for all citizens to at least investigate the facts.
Daphne Ross is a resident of Powell River.