Expropriation hearings a sham?

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Elizabeth Brubaker writes in the Winnipeg Free Press that a decision by Winnipeg city council will reveal whether a system of hearings designed to protect property owners from unfair or unreasonable expropriation is a sham. Continue reading

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Expropriation in the news: The public projects edition

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This sampling of stories covered by the media in 2014 provides an overview of expropriations for roads, sewers, and other public purposes. Despite the public nature of the projects, many of the takings raise troubling questions about the process. Continue reading

Can public utilities be accountable?

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Manitoba regulators have charged Winnipeg for polluting the Red River and for failing to report the pollution. In explaining the decision to prosecute, the province cited the need for accountability. But if the city can pass fines along to taxpayers or water customers, is it really accountable for its errors? Continue reading

Debunking the myth of public-sector accountability

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Those who advocate purely public water and sewage utilities warn that private financing and operation impede transparency, diminish accountability, and undermine government regulation. They have it backwards: Public utilities have repeatedly shown themselves to be un-transparent and un-accountable. Continue reading

Mandating transparency … or killing P3s?

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In May, the Manitoba government introduced The Public-Private Partnerships Transparency and Accountability Act. Ostensibly intended to ensure transparency, it may instead hamstring municipalities that want to pursue public-private partnerships. Continue reading

Water regulator calls for greater transparency and accountability

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Concerned about fairness and transparency, Manitoba’s Public Utilities Board is recommending that it regulate the rates charged by Winnipeg’s water and sewer utilities. Continue reading

$1.2B in Sewage Treatment Upgrades for Winnipeg

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Water Canada reports that Winnipeg needs to find $1.2 billion for upgrades to its sewage treatment facilities. The article cites Environment Probe’s criticism of Winnipeg’s agreement with Veolia Water – an agreement that guarantees no private investment in the ailing sewage facilities. Continue reading

Troubled Waters

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Veolia Water touts its sewage agreement with Winnipeg as a model for other communities. But Elizabeth Brubaker argues in the National Post that it would be a bad model, as it merely provides for "expert advice" on the design, construction and operation of Winnipeg’s sewage-treatment facilities. It brings no private investment, limits incentives and opportunities for savings, and blurs lines of accountability regarding costs and performance. Continue reading

Winnipeg Signs 30-Year “Alliance” With Veolia

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Public Works Financing reports on Winnipeg’s 30-year contract with Veolia Water, under which the firm will advise the city on capital improvements to and operations of its sewage treatment facilities. The article notes Elizabeth Brubaker’s concerns about sewage treatment staff and management remaining under city control. Continue reading