EPCOR drainage transfer requires transparency

Six thousand kilometres of storm, sanitary and combined drainage pipes; 240 stormwater management facilities; 85 pump stations; and a construction company specializing in tunneling. These basic yet critical drainage infrastructure and services help prevent flooding in our neighbourhoods by managing surface and sub-surface water. Though most of us don’t see all the work that goes into keeping our neighbourhoods safe and dry, it’s happening literally under our feet every day. And it’s essential to our safety. That’s why drainage has always been in the public domain and a City responsibility.

In a close 7–6 vote on April 12, City Council approved the transfer of this responsibility to EPCOR by September 1.

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Drainage_KerenTang.jpgThis was the fourth attempt by EPCOR to take over the drainage assets. While EPCOR is owned by the City, it is neither a public utility nor a traditional crown corporation, but rather exists and operates as a private sector corporation. This means it does not have the level of accountability and transparency that we currently have in our City-operated drainage services. The board of directors, though appointed by City Council, meets behind closed doors without any public oversight.

I am running for City Council because I believe in the need for engagement and connecting with Edmontonians. The decision to transfer drainage assets and responsibilities to EPCOR, with its closed-door politics, does not align with my vision for a more connected city where residents have a voice in decision-making. Now that the decision has been made, however, there is a need to incorporate elements of the transparency that applied to drainage operations under City control, such as monthly public reporting to City Council and the City Auditor’s review. These measures, as well as the motion that the City Council recently introduced to provide public access to information, may help to improve transparency.