Where are the P3 success stories?

In focusing on public sector union opposition to P3s, Matthew Enns’ letter titled “P3 benefits are obvious,” left me feeling somewhat jilted.

In focusing on public sector union opposition to P3s, Matthew Enns’ letter titled “P3 benefits are obvious,” left me feeling somewhat jilted.

Even though I am not a member of a union, I too am in opposition to a P3 when it comes to the supply of our water.

I am not convinced of universal benefits when it comes to public-private partnerships, and will provide two recent examples.

The first was raised by Mayor George Peary at the April 14 Mayor’s breakfast.  As reported in the April 16 edition of the Abbotsford News, Mayor Peary refers to Auguston school “as Abbotsford’s first P3 project.”

In this case the risk factor was obviously not covered by the private partner. Abbotsford School Board’s response to an FOI request informed me that Auguston school was constructed in 2000, and required repairs of $2,016,698 by 2008.

The cost of the repairs was paid for by the ministry of education through the building envelope program.  If Auguston school is a P3 to be admired, why didn’t the builder cover the cost of repairs?

Then there’s the 2011 Auditor General of B.C.’s Audit of the Academic Ambulatory Care Centre Private Partnership  (available on-line; VCHA refers to Vancouver Coastal Health Authority).

Several points from the conclusion:

n “Construction was completed on time, but the final capitalized value of $123 million was 29.5 per cent higher than the estimated capital cost of $95 million disclosed in the project report.

n The use of a P3 contract was not effective in controlling VCHA-initiated design and scope changes.

n The performance-based payment structure for operations and maintenance of the facility does not represent good practice.”

Not exactly a glowing report for this particular P3.

We need to know more about actual P3 successes and failures before we jump in with both feet.

Regina Dalton

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