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P3s earning solid reviews


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September 2, 2013 by STAFF REPORT

A Conference Board of Canada report indicates that public-private partnerships (P3s) have an 83 per cent success rate in terms of meeting completion dates.

The study looked at 42 projects and found 35 were completed either on time or early. Also, 90 per cent of the projects (38 of 42 projects) were delivered within four months after the planned completion date. Ninety-five per cent (40 of 42 projects) were completed within six months after the targeted date.

A P3 project is financed by the private sector and paid partly based on results (completion on time/on budget, and ongoing operations and maintenance), whereas private firms funded by the public sector build traditional infrastructure projects.

Leading the charge for P3s are the provincial governments of Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

The federal government is also supporting P3 projects, so far handing over $700 million from the P3 Canada Fund for 15 projects in six provinces and territories.

Although municipalities spend as much on infrastructure as the provinces, they have been slow to take on P3 projects because of a lack of financial resources, political risk, unfamiliarity with P3 delivery and smaller project sizes.

But the municipal P3 market is expanding, the report said, with 15 projects launched from 2009 to 2012, including four in Winnipeg and three in Toronto.

Recommendations:

In order to make P3s more practical for municipalities, the report suggested the following:

  • Wastewater infrastructure projects should be favoured for funding from senior levels of government if they include metered water pricing – which has been shown to reduce consumption.
  • Evaluate P3 projects before, during and after completion
  • Funding incentives should be changed to promote projects that include an operating and maintenance phase, in addition to design and construction.

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