In a close vote yesterday, City Council decided to transfer over the City’s Drainage Services to EPCOR. This was not an easy decision, partly because there was a lot of confusion around what this really means. Hopefully I can provide some clarity and insight here.
Firstly, oversight and ownership of assets remain with the City of Edmonton. EPCOR is 100% owned by the City of Edmonton and we have the ability, through regular shareholder meetings and appearances before Utility Committee, to oversee and regulate EPCOR’s performance, just as we do with our water services today. In the agreement with EPCOR, rate increases will be limited to 3% a year for 5 years, consistent with the City’s previous forecast. Beyond that, all rates will be set by City Council on the advice of our Utility Committee.
Second, I am pleased with the work of City Council, City officials and the EPCOR team for dealing with this matter in a public and transparent way. Councillor Knack’s motions ensure continued transparency into Drainage operations, and we have committed to making Council’s regulatory oversight of all EPCOR functions even more accessible to citizens. We all understand that our drainage system is critical, essential infrastructure in our city, and that won’t change.
Finally, I believe the Drainage Utility will benefit from EPCOR’s management acumen and I believe the transfer will produce efficiency and synergy with other EPCOR utility operations, both on the construction side as well as on the longer-term operations side. Beyond that, there is a strategic opportunity here for our city to see our home-grown company grow in other markets, in a way that benefits all of our citizens as shareholders in this company.
Higher efficiency, stronger outcomes, transparency and an opportunity to grow a company that can be continentally relevant is a worthy opportunity for the City of Edmonton to pursue.