Protect Toronto's Drinking Water
A recent poll commissioned by Water Watch (A2 June 15
Toronto Star – details below) showed strong support for
keeping the city’s water management system under the direct
control of city staff and council.
We need to call councillors and get them to STOP the
Water Plan now!
Please return completed petitions as soon as possible
– reply to this email to make arrangements. If you want
to work on petitions please visit our website www.torwaterwatch.org
and call 416-580-8466 for recommended areas.
1) Call 416-338-0338 and ask for your councillor
Or use this website to find your councillor. http://app.city.toronto.on.ca/im/council/councillors.jsp
2) Email your councillor - use the following email format
councillor_(INSERT LAST NAME, no capitals, OF
e.g. if your councillor is Pam McConnell the email address
would be firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Contact Water Watch if you can assist with further
Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
4) Send Water Watch your postal code and contact information
for reference Email email@example.com
5) Review poll results and “10 Reasons to Reject the
City’s Water Plan”
(Highlights from Toronto Star article)
Most want city to control water
A2 June 15
A large majority of Toronto
residents believe the city’s water is safe to drink, support
keeping the water system under city government control
and believe that they haven’t been consulted adequately
on proposed changes, a poll has found.
68.6 per cent supported having the city continue to directly
run the water system, while 17.9 per cent supported the
plan backed by Lastman.
76.9 per cent said they didn’t know city council was
contemplating changes to water management, while 21.7
per cent were aware
82.4 per cent said they would vote for a candidate who
supported maintaining direct city government control of
the water system
June 16, 2002
For Immediate Release
Poll Shows Massive Opposition to Water Board
81 % want to keep direct control of water system
overwhelmingly oppose Mayor Mel Lastman’s plan to turn
the City’s drinking water over to an arms-length service
board, and expressed dissatisfaction with the City’s lack
of consultation on the issue.
The results are a sharp rebuke to the Mayor’s plan for
Residents appear to oppose mayor Lastman in overwhelming
numbers in almost every aspect of his effort to alter
our water system.
* 81% say they would oppose any effort to reduce direct
accountability in the system
* 75% say they trust the City to run the water system
while only 15% trust an arms-length agency of commission
* 75% are satisfied with the current water system.
* 77% say they have not been informed about the proposed
changes though 90% think they City should not proceed
* 69% say the City should continue to run the system
directly while only 18% support and arms-length agency.
The next municipal election will be heavily effected
by the choices City Councillors makes about the water
system at next week’s Council meeting. Over 82% of those
surveyed said the water issue would be an important factor
in deciding who to support in the next election, with
28% calling it the most important factor.
“The public has spoken loud and clear,” said Sean Meagher
of Water Watch, “They don’t like the Mayor’s plans to
give up control of our drinking water. Mayor Lastman claims
the public is confused by privatization scares. But this
poll asked separate questions about privatization and
the Mayor’s proposed agency. What we found is that the
public doesn’t like either one. What’s more, they’re prepared
to say so at the ballot box.”
The poll was commissioner by Toronto Water Watch, a local
coalition that has been advocating for public control
of the water system. The poll, conducted between May 29th
and June 5th, and posed key questions about the future
of Toronto’s water system to 600 Toronto residents and
is accurate within 4.7%.
- 30 -
For more information or interview opportunities please
Sean Meagher at 416 820-7889
10 REASONS TO REJECT THE CITY’S PLAN TO GIVE UP CONTROL
OF OUR DRINKING WATER
On May 31st, the City released a report on the future
of our water system. The report recommends that the City
abandon direct public control of our water system and
adopt a new management system – one that is unpopular,
expensive and less accountable.
Worse still, the report doesn’t give a clear picture
of how the proposed Municipal Service Board system would
work or how it might affect taxes, staffing, public health
and other municipal services.
Here are 10 reasons why no one should accept this report.
1) The report admits its recommendations decrease accountability.
The report acknowledges that accountability is one of
the most important considerations, calling it “crucial”.
It also acknowledges that direct public control of water
systems creates the most accountability. But the report
recommends an arms-length, appointed board, which it admits
is less accountable.
It also recommends that the City try to set up a water
corporation, a model it concedes is the least accountable.
2) The report rejects the system the public wants.
The report shows that public feedback has consistently
supported the current, directly accountable model.
The report acknowledges the current system to be more
accountable, more responsive and more likely to provide
a secure supply of clean safe water.
Despite that ringing endorsement, the City rejected that
model, instead choosing to pursue one that it admits is
less accountable and less responsive.
3) The proposed plan raises taxes (and water rates),
but provides no new services.
The Water & Wastewater Division contributes millions
to help cover the administrative costs of running the
The Division also provides free water for city parks
and the fire department. Under the new plan, the City
would have up to $78 million less to cover overhead costs,
and the fire department would pay for water.
The City would have to raise taxes to cover the difference.
No one has calculated the tax impact of these changes.
4) The report recommends a model, but has no idea how
it would work
The report recommends a new Municipal Service Board,
but says nothing about what policies the board would follow,
the cost of establishing it, or the tax implications.
The report asks for five months to figure out an implementation
plan. The process includes no public consultation.
5) The new model won’t improve infrastructure investment
(which was the only reason for changing the system in
the first place).
The report claims we need an arms-length body to ensure
long-term investment in infrastructure. But the City is
already making long-term investments, and has adopted
a plan that will make sure those investments continue.
Even if Councillors want to back out of that plan, Bill
155 will soon make it illegal to underfund water infrastructure.
What’s more, the proposed structure doesn’t give the
new board the power to make those investment decisions.
City Council keeps the power to set the water rate and
set the budget. The proposed board has no power to meet
the goals that are set out for it.
6) We don’t know the outcome of the massive legislative
changes that are coming, or how they affect the proposed
The report acknowledges that the Sustainable Water and
Sewage Systems Act has not yet been passed and will have
a big impact on how water systems are governed.
The report recognizes that the Municipal Act regulations
affecting water corporations are not written, and the
Act itself has not even taken effect.
The report concedes that the guidelines on funding for
water and wastewater systems under SuperBuild are not
The report notes that the new Safe Drinking Water Act
hasn’t even been drafted.
Despite almost no information about how the legislation
will change the future, the report recommends proceeding
now with a new system for managing our water.
7) The plan creates a new structure to reduce overhead
costs for our water system but admits overhead costs are
very low, and are unlikely to get lower.
Big North American cities have overhead costs of between
17.5% and 34% of their budgets. Toronto’s overhead cost
is 19.6% - almost at the bottom.
How would a new structure make those costs go lower?
No one seems to know.
8) The plan could cause massive layoffs in other departments.
If the City is to avoid massive tax increases resulting
from the removal of $78 million in funding for administrative
overhead, it would have to lay off hundreds of City staff
in the administrative departments.
There is no plan for coping with the impact of the layoffs,
the severance costs, or the labour relations implications.
9) The changes could affect public control of the water
system under international trade laws, but the City Solicitor
won’t be able to report on that for five months.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and General
Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) contain provisions
that can undermine public control of services like water.
Changing the management of our water system could have
an impact on how those laws apply, but the report recommends
that we adopt a new management model now, five months
before the City Solicitor can report on the implications.
10) The report agrees we have a first rate water system
that is one of the best in the world, but still it calls
for massive changes.
If it ain’t broke, why are we raising taxes, laying off
staff, reducing accountability and disrupting the water
system to fix it?
212 Carlton St. #4