P3: City maintains ‘best option’

The City of Abbotsford recently launched a $200,000 awareness campaign to help inform residents and promote the concept of a public-private partnership to establish a new water supply and treatment facility at Stave Lake.

The City of Abbotsford recently launched a $200,000 awareness campaign to help inform residents and promote the concept of a public-private partnership to establish a new water supply and treatment facility at Stave Lake.

The city has maintained from the beginning that a P3 project is the “best and most cost-effective option.”

The possibility of $61 million in federal funding for a P3 project is something Mayor George Peary has said the city “will not turn its back from.”

Peary maintains that under a P3 agreement, “the city will always own the water,” it will “own the treatment plant,” and will set the water rates.

The city also believes that by involving a private partner, a certain amount of risk is transferred from the city to the private sector.

Under the P3 agreement, the private company would be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the plant for the full 25-year term, after which the city then takes over.

Peary has compared it to getting a “25-year warranty.”

As the Nov. 19 referendum approaches, the city is planning to host five public information meetings and two town hall phone meetings to answer questions and address public concerns about P3s.

“If you need to see an example of a P3 project at its best, take a look at the Abbotsford Hospital,” said Peary.