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Confidential report slams P3 paper

Dayton Knight report not included in council's background package

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A confidential engineering report, made public this week, has two councillors "deeply troubled" about council’s decision to pursue a public-private partnership for Whistler’s sewage treatment plant.

Reading the report, said Councillor Eckhard Zeidler, has shed a whole new light on the topic and where once he was willing to try to remain neutral and allow voters to decide on the P3 for themselves, he will now be vociferous in his opposition.

"I’m not going to stand by the previous council’s decision," said Zeidler, after reading the report Tuesday. "I would like to see the decision reversed… I may not win but I’m going to be, from this point forward, very upfront about it.

"This report is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me."

The Dayton & Knight report, dated November 2004 and addressed to municipal lawyer Donald Lidstone, delivers in no uncertain terms, a scathing commentary on an earlier Partnerships BC report promoting a P3 for the multi-million dollar upgrades to Whistler’s sewage treatment plant.

Councillors were unaware of the strong contents of the report until this week.

Both reports were to have informed a blue ribbon panel of experts who were then to make recommendations to council.

Partnerships BC is the provincial government body that is mandated to investigate and, where appropriate, promote P3s in the province.

The Dayton and Knight report says this about Partnerships BC’s report on Whistler’s sewage plant: "The PBC (Partnerships BC) exercise in support of DBO (design, build and operate by a private partner) lacks credibility, because it rests on unrealistic and erroneous assumptions.

"Support for a DBO can be made only for political or self-serving reasons. Its selection over the current traditional approach lacks or excludes common sense, ethics, imagination, history and reason."

Dayton & Knight have been Whistler’s wastewater engineering consultant for more than 20 years, doing all the work through the last three major upgrades at the plant.

On one hand the company stood to lose work if council chose a P3 model. On the other hand, they were trusted consultants to the municipality.

Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, who read the Dayton & Knight report Tuesday, called the contents "unbelievable".

With the critique in hand she was surprised the blue ribbon panel made the recommendations they did for Whistler to pursue the P3 option.

"I am appalled at that (blue ribbon panel) report," she said. "It amazes me that the report would still be written in the manner it was in light of Dayton & Knight’s very pointed criticisms of Partnerships BC’s business case."

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