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NEWS: Saint John may vote on P3 water system on March 24

Saint John, New Brunswick

Saint John, New Brunswick

The Council of Canadians, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and others are opposing a public-private partnership for a new water treatment system in Saint John, New Brunswick.

The Telegraph-Journal reports, “If Common Council moves ahead with a privately built, financed and operated drinking water plant, it would prove to be the largest undertaking in Canada. A new study reveals that municipal water projects backed by private partners have been much less ambitious and smaller in scale. The bid would place Saint John in unusual territory, according to the study by PPP Canada, the Crown corporation that manages federal P3 funds. Only two drinking water projects in Canada (one in Moncton the other in Manitoba) have been designed, built, financed, operated and maintained by private partners, and neither of them was close to the size of Saint John’s proposal, the study reveals.”

Last week, CBC reported, “Saint John council is holding a special public meeting (on Thursday February 21) to discuss how a public-private partnership could be arranged to pay for a new water treatment system. Saint John Mayor Mel Norton said he plans to put a ‘full-court press’ on drinking water (so that the city can break) ground by the end of this year on a new water treatment system. …The city will have to funnel any federal funding application through P3 Canada, a Crown corporation. That process could lead to a model where a private sector group designs, builds, finances, operates and maintains the city’s water treatment system.”

Yesterday’s Telegraph-Journal report notes, “Council was expected to hear a presentation on P3s by consultants Thursday evening, but it was cancelled and rescheduled for Monday night.”

“Here is an overview of upcoming milestones in the drinking water proposal:
Monday: PwC, a consulting firm, is scheduled to provide Common Council with an overview of P3s.
Feb. 27-March 1: John McBride, CEO of PPP Canada, is expected to visit Saint John and brief council.
Mid-March: Officials start analysis of the affordability of a safer water system.
March 14: Council is scheduled to review a report comparing the costs of a P3 versus a traditional tender.
March 24: Council may vote on a P3 funding model.
April 2: The last day council can vote on the P3 model to have an application in to PPP Canada in time for its June meeting.
April 5: City sends a final application to PPP Canada.”

In May 2012, a CUPE-commissioned poll conducted by Continuum Research found that 62 per cent of Saint John voters oppose a private, for-profit corporation delivering the city’s drinking water treatment services.

For more, please see:
NEWS: Saint John considers P3 water system at special meeting
Council of Canadians opposes P3 in Saint John