Regina residents demand a fair vote

REGINA – Regina Water Watch is demanding that citizens of Regina get a fair vote on whether Regina’s new wastewater treatment plant will be privatized or remain public. The citizen’s group delivered 24,232 signatures to city hall on June 20, 2013, substantially exceeding the legal requirement of 19,310.

“Regina residents have spoken loud and clear with their signatures.  They want a vote on whether or not wastewater treatment should be privatized or remain public,” says Jim Holmes of Regina Water Watch.  “With more signatures collected than the Mayor himself received in votes, it is clear that a referendum must be held and the petition question should be put to voters.”

Regina Water Watch contends the report produced by the City Clerk is an attempt to prevent a vote rather than a sincere attempt to ensure signatures meet the requirements outlined in The Cities Act, pointing to several instances of the Clerk’s attempts to roadblock the petition which include:  inappropriate telephone calls and messages, the unilateral decision to invalidate signatures that do not have the year as part of the date, and the request to have the provincial government raise the petition threshold while signatures were being collected.

“The report released today by the City Clerk only shows the unfair tactics used by the Clerk’s office,” says Holmes.  “There is no question that of the 24,232 signatures submitted to city hall, there are enough signatures to require a vote.”

Despite the Clerks’ invalidation of the petition, Holmes says City Council still has the ability to do the right thing and order a binding vote on the resolution contained in the petition.

“If the City attempts to insert a biased question, we will take all actions possible to protect democracy, which could include court action,” says Holmes.  “The level of trust in City Council is very low as a result of their secrecy and tactics.  There must be a vote and it must be a fair vote.”

City Council will hold a special meeting to consider the petition on Monday, July 22, 2013, at 5:30 p.m.

 

Residents urged to call councillors as clerk introduces new tactic

REGINA – Following the latest actions of the City Clerk, residents who signed the petition for a referendum on the privatization of the wastewater treatment plant are asked to phone or email their City Councillor.

“The City Clerk is going to unprecedented lengths to invalidate signatures,” says Jim Holmes of Regina Water Watch.  “City councillors need to hear that every petition signature counts.”

New reports have surfaced of inappropriate telephone calls and messages from the City Clerk’s office that exceed the legal test of signatures under the law, and put into question who is left out in being contacted by the clerk. This attempt follows what has been several attempts by the City Clerk to roadblock the petition by requesting the provincial government up the legal threshold while signatures were still being collected, and the unilateral decision to invalidate signatures that do not have the year as part of the date despite the limited 90-day collection period and no specific date requirement under the law.

“The latest tactic by the City Clerk goes beyond the scrutiny conducted in a general election, and reported threats to remove names from the petition are totally unreasonable,” says Holmes.

The City Clerk, the official responsible for determining if a petition is “sufficient” under The Cities Act, will produce a report next week on how many petition signatures the clerk considers valid, and whether there are enough signatures deemed valid to force a referendum vote.

Take Action: Call your City Councillor: Make your signature count

Regina Water Watch delivered 24,232 petition signatures to city hall on June 20, 2013, collected between March 22 and June 20, 2013.  The minimum threshold to force a referendum vote under the law is 19,310 signatures.

More petition roadblocks at City Hall

REGINA – Regina Water Watch is raising new concerns about the City of Regina’s recent statement on signature validation.  In an e-mail from the City Clerk’s office, the citizen’s group was advised that the City would strike any signature not containing the year in the date.

Jim Holmes, Regina Water Watch spokesperson, notes that the petition was launched on March 22, 2013 and 24,232 signatures were delivered to the City on June 20, 2013.  “How could there possibly be any question that the year was anything other than 2013 when signatures were gathered?” asks Holmes.

“We’ve already seen the City attempt to increase the number of signatures required in the last week of a 90-day process,” said Holmes. The Minister of Government Relations rejected this request as an inappropriate intervention in municipal democracy.

“It appears the City is now looking for ways to deprive citizens of their right to a vote.”

Holmes has requested that the City Clerk consult with Regina Water Watch to insure that the democratic rights of citizens are safeguarded. “We don’t want any more attempts to subvert this process,” said Holmes.

The citizens’ group delivered 24,232 signatures to the City Clerk on June 20, 2013.  The required minimum is 19,310. The petition calls for a referendum vote to determine whether or not the City will publicly finance, operate and maintain the new wastewater treatment plant.

 

We did it! Petition campaign a resounding success

The message delivered to City Hall on June 20 was loud and clear:  Regina’s citizens want a say in the future of their wastewater treatment plant.

Ninety days after the petition calling for a referendum was launched on World Water Day, Water Watch volunteers handed in 24,232 signatures, substantially exceeding the city’s requirement of 19,310.

Volunteers, who had worked tirelessly to engage the public for the last three months, were in a celebratory mood as they handed bundles of petitions to the city clerk.  “Thank you, Regina”, campaign worker Darren Grychowski called out, amid cheers from the citizens’ group.

The city has a month in which validate the petition and nine months to call a referendum.  The people of Regina will be given a choice!

KeepWaterPublic_petition

International recognition of the right to water and sanitation

Countries worldwide are recognizing the basic right to water and sanitation. On June 15 the UK government, which until now has not recognised the human right to sanitation, announced that they will support the inclusion of commitments to the right both to safe drinking water and to sanitation as a right.  Water and wastewater are linked together as a basic human right.

For more information, check out the Right to Water and Sanitation website:

http://www.righttowater.info/

 

City tries to change petition requirements one week before deadline

REGINA – Regina Water Watch is concerned by an email they received yesterday from the City Clerk’s office advising them that the City has requested that the Saskatchewan Minister of Government Relations use his discretion to increase the threshold of signatures required.  The City has asked that the threshold be set at 20,750 – using a health card count – instead of 19,301 – based on census figures.

“We’re concerned that this request has come one week before the petition deadline, and after news reports that we are on track to reach the legal requirement,” says Jim Holmes, Regina Water Watch spokesperson. “It’s unfair.”

 

Holmes likens this move to moving the finish line of a marathon to the 27-mile mark after runners have already reached more than the halfway point.

“It’s unfair to the public to change the goalposts in the last quarter,” says Holmes

The City’s controversial proposal to build the new wastewater treatment plant using P3 privatization funds and have a private company design, build, finance, operate and maintain the plant is the subject of a petition that more than 19,000 Regina residents have already signed.

Regina Water Watch has released its own detailed study by economist Hugh Mackenzie that shows that the City’s proposal is a more expensive way to build and operate the new plant.  Despite repeated attempts including an Access to Information Request, the City has refused to disclose the calculations and assumptions that support its proposal.

The citizens’ group has been collecting signatures since March 22.  Petitions are due on June 20, 2013.  The petition calls for a referendum vote to determine whether or not the City will publicly finance, operate and maintain the new wastewater treatment plant.

June 13 letter from City