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Saint John faces costly P3 for their drinking water

CBC reports, “The City of Saint John is getting nearly $115 million to upgrade its water treatment system under a public-private partnership model. The federal and provincial governments will each contribute $57.3 million… Officials made the announcement at City Hall on Friday afternoon.”

“Saint John plans to build a new 100 million litre per day drinking water treatment plant, three new 11 million litre storage reservoirs and 15 other water transmission system improvements. …A new water treatment plant and accompanying infrastructure for Saint John has been estimated at $220 million, although the actual cost won’t be known until a private partner is found. Saint John’s ratepayers will cover the remainder of the mega-project’s costs, beyond the $114.6 million.”

“In the past, large infrastructure projects, such as the water system upgrade, would be funded equally by the federal, provincial and municipal governments. But federal rules now say municipalities must, on more expensive projects, consider adding a private sector partner.”

Last May, we helped organize a public forum in Saint John with Paul Groody, the commissioner in charge of Saint John Water for thirteen years before he retired in 2011. At that time, the Telegraph Journal reported, “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.”

We oppose this P3 in Saint John and continue to monitor the situation, notably by keeping watch on the consortium of corporations that will be chosen to design, construct, finance, operate and maintain Saint John’s drinking water system.

Further reading

NEWS: Saint John considers P3 water system at special meeting on Feb. 21
NEWS: Council chapter calls for independent consultant in P3 debate in Saint John
NEWS: Common Causes Saint John continues to fight against P3 project
NEWS: Water and wastewater facilities in the ‘bull’s eye’ for P3s