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PPP Canada prepares to focus on municipal infrastructure projects

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Municipalities are the final uncharted frontier for public-private partnerships in Canada and the newly founded federal P3 office intends to focus its efforts in that area.

Canadian Council on Public-Private Partnerships

Municipalities are the final uncharted frontier for public-private partnerships in Canada and the newly founded federal P3 office intends to focus its efforts in that area.

“Municipalities are an area we have highlighted where we may be most useful,” said Michael Carter, representative of PPP Canada Inc.

Carter was a member of a six-person panel that closed the recent 16th annual Canadian Council on Public-Private Partnerships (CCPPP). Carter joined a panel that consisted of the heads of P3 and Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) agencies from across Canada.

Jim Flaherty, finance minister for Canada, announced earlier at the CCPPP conference that the federal P3 agency, PPP Canada Inc., will be up and running in 2009. Flaherty noted that the agency will report to the finance minister and it will soon have its first chair in place.

PPP Canada Inc. will have a $1.25 billion fund to administer and Carter said this size of fund is best suited to help smaller scale projects such as those tackled by municipalities.

“Our long-term goal is to be an advisory agency to the government,” added Carter.

David Livingston, president and chief executive officer (CEO) for Infrastructure Ontario (IO), said his agency would like to help municipalities with understanding P3s. Ultimately, IO would like to get some municipalities to buy into doing a P3 and becoming model examples for others to study and follow.

Calgary and Saskatoon have talked with the major-capital-projects branch of Alberta Transportation, noted its executive director, Neil McQuay. These municipalities are taking the right approach by getting educated about the process and looking at “lessons learned”, said McQuay.

Pierre Lefebvre, president and CEO of Partenariats public-prive Quebec and a CCPPP director, said municipalities could be perfect for bundled projects under a P3 model. For example, three municipalities relatively close in proximity could have their water and wastewater systems built in one P3 project. The challenge is that municipalities can be very territorial and wish to do things their own way, added Lefebvre.

A recent CCPPP survey indicated that 65 per cent of respondents living in communities less than 5,000 people agree it is time to use P3s. Sixty-two per cent of respondents in communities between 5,000 and 100,000 in population also supported P3 use. Lastly, 57 per cent of respondents in communities between 100,000 and one million people support P3 use now.

by Vince Versace

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