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NEWS: Common Causes Saint John continues to fight against P3 project

Common Causes Saint John continues to organize against a public-private partnership for the city’s drinking water system. On May 15 they organized a public meeting featuring Paul Groody, the commissioner in charge of Saint John Water for thirteen years before he retired in 2011.

The Telegraph Journal reports, “Groody said a proposed public-private partnership would cost citizens more in the long term and would lead to a lack of accountability and transparency in decision-making. …Based (on the findings in a University of Toronto study that reviewed 28 P3 projects), Groody estimated that Saint John would pay $35 million more for a $220 million project than it would under a traditional tender.”

“(Groody also) said council should urge Ottawa to unlock funds for the drinking water project without any strings attached.” The Harper government warns that it will only provide funding to municipalities if they pursue a P3 model. “Faced with this warning, council has approved a plan that would see private partners build and operate a new treatment plant on the east side for 30 years.”

On February 25, Common Causes Saint John and the Council of Canadians Saint John chapter held a teach-in opposed to the P3 proposal.

On March 11, the groups presented their opposition to common council. On March 12, CBC reported that the Council of Canadians wants Saint John city council to delay its plans to apply to a federal public-private partnership fund for the city’s new water treatment system. That report noted, “Wayne Dryer, with the Saint John chapter of the Council of Canadians, said, ‘We believe the diligence in this matter must include the city seeking advice from independent experts other than those who are in the business of advocating public-private partnerships.’ …Former Mayor Ivan Court agreed councillors need to bring in an additional consultant who can supply costs for the competing public option.”

Later that month, they delivered a petition with 1075 signatures urging common council ‘not to rush into a bad P3 contract that we will regret for the next 20 to 30 years’.

But on March 25, Saint John common council voted to approve the city manager’s recommendation to proceed with a P3 funding model.

The Telegraph Journal adds, “A funding decision is expected as early as June.”

For more, please read:
NEWS: Council chapter calls for independent consultant in P3 debate in Saint John
NEWS: Saint John may vote on P3 water system on March 24
NEWS: Saint John considers P3 water system at special meeting on Feb. 21
Council of Canadians opposes P3 in Saint John