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NEWS: Water and wastewater facilities in the ‘bull’s eye’ for P3s

The Regina Leader-Post reports, “The public-private partnership (P3) model for building infrastructure has made inroads into provincial projects such as hospitals and schools. Now, municipalities are the targets, legal experts say, as Canada’s growing P3 industry looks to evolve and expand its reach. Sitting in the bull’s-eye are water and waste treatment facilities. …Municipal projects are clearly the latest wave. A water and waste water treatment sector study completed by PPP Canada, a federal Crown corporation whose mandate is to promote the use of P3 models for building infrastructure, suggests Canadian municipalities need $88-billion to refurbish or replace current water and sewage treatment systems.”

The article suggests that support for P3s across Canada is growing. “A survey for PPP Canada from 2011 showed a significant in-crease in the acceptance of P3 projects in Ontario – including water – which rose to 72% support from 48% in 2010. Across the country, support for P3s is growing. About 70% of Canadians favour P3s, with the highest support for building recreation facilities (75%), transit (73%), roads (71%), sewage and water (67%), and hospitals and schools (66%).”

That said, iPolitics recently reported, “(The Harper government has) funded PPP Canada faster than the Crown corporation (can) disburse that funding for infrastructure projects. …As of September 30, 2012, PPP Canada had received $683 million in federal government money for what’s known as the P3 Fund, which provides funding to infrastructure projects procured by other levels of government through public-private partnerships. Of that $683 million, $343 million had been awarded for 12 projects…”

The Leader-Post article adds, “John Loxley, an economics professor at the University of Manitoba, opposes P3s and any expansion of them into the municipal sector. ‘The argument in favour of P3s has been exaggerated’, he says, noting there hasn’t been any long-term analysis of benefits. He calls the risk calculations ‘highly dubious’, also believing governments pay too much in interest payments and says P3s cut small, local contractors out of the picture.”

Council of Canadians chapters in Regina and Saint John have recently been fighting water-related P3 proposals. The Council is also in contact with activists working to stop a P3 proposal by Veolia in Sechelt, BC. The Council of Canadians participated in an April to November 2011 campaign to defeat a P3 proposal in Abbotsford.

For more, please read:
NEWS: Regina Water Watch launches petition for referendum on P3 wastewater plant
NEWS: Council chapter calls for independent consultant in P3 debate in Saint John
NEWS: Protest against Veolia in Sechelt
WIN! Abbotsford rejects P3 water proposal