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Waste water treatment plant: what’s next?

Mayor Michael Fougere addresses Regina media after the referendum results came in Wednesday night. Adrian Raaber/Global News

REGINA – After months of campaigning for a P3 model of funding and operating a new waste waster treatment plant, Regina city council has its wish.

“I’m completely confident in the work by administration,” said Mayor Michael Fougere on Wednesday night, after the referendum results came in. “Our consultants painted a crystal clear picture of what this means, and I think the public accepts that.”

So what happens now that over 57 per cent of voters have given council the green light?

Fougere told the media about 10 parties had expressed interest in the project.

The process was put on hold when Regina Water Watch pushed the city to holf a vote on the issue.

But Fougere believes the city will still meet a provincial deadline on the new plant, set for the end of 2016.

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With voters signing off on a P3, opponents fear Regina’s referendum could pave the way for more public-private partnerships.

“I think we can look forward to more of these privatizations of essential services,” said RWW spokesperson Jim Holmes. “With Stephen Harper subsidizing them, it’s going to be a big push.”

It was also a big push financially for both sides of this debate.

The city says it spent about $340,000 on its education campaign, telling Reginans to vote no.

Fougere says there are no regrets on that front.

“How else would we tell people why we made this decision? No one else would do that.”

One group that did was the Regina Chamber of Commerce. The CEO says some members may have left over that stance.

“We respect members if they want to leave the chamber, that’s their perrogative,” said John Hopkins. “We thought it was important we stood up in this discussion.”

Turnout for the referendum was about 31 per cent of eligible voters, just shy of last fall’s municipal election.

Results will become official on Friday, while council is expected to ratify them at its next meeting.

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