The heads of Canada’s public private partnership (P3) agencies recently congregated at the 21st annual National Conference of the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships in Toronto. Among P3 issues they discussed: ensuring that projects achieve optimum scope, engaging contractors of all size and attracting the finances required to fuel P3s.
John McBride, CEO, PPP Canada promised that the $1.2 billion renewal of the P3 Canada Fund over five years will focus on expanding the scope of Canadian P3 projects.
“We’re trying to bring new jurisdictions into the game of P3s and bring new sectors into P3s,” he said.
— Bert Clark, president & CEO, Infrastructure Ontario (IO) noted that his organization had considered breaking up such projects as the Eglinton Crosstown LRT to allow a wider range of contractor participation.
“But, we look at Eglinton as a single project with really big integration risk,” he said.
“We don’t see that as responsible project management, so we rejected those more radical solutions.”
However, he indicated that IO would “create incentives” for larger contractors to partner with smaller contractors.
“We’re also ensuring that road projects aren’t any bigger than they need to be,” he said.
IO’s portfolio is also expanding from one focused primarily on healthcare to deliver more civil projects, including transportation and power infrastructure.
— Sarah Clark, president & CEO, Partnerships BC (PBC) said her organization offers a busy pipeline of projects over the near future. PBC continues to monitor the participation of local contractors and suppliers, citing high local participation levels on such projects as Highway 1 and the Fort St. John Hospital.
“We’ve also started holding business-to-business days, better known as speed-dating, where proponents who have been short-listed can meet with local suppliers and contractors who want to tell people what they have to offer,” she said.
— Rupen Pandya, president & CEO, SaskBuilds noted that as the organization reaches its first birthday, it has four projects under review, including the Swift Current Long-Term Care Centre, Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford, the Regina Bypass and nine joint-use elementary schools.
He noted that the organization will be “talking to the market” as new projects advance to ensure that contractors will continue to be engaged by P3 offerings.
— Fred Blaney, Assistant Deputy Minister, Partnerships New Brunswick noted that Atlantic Canada has considerable opportunities to apply the P3 model.
“We do have a pipeline,” he said.
“However, our pipeline is not fueled as robustly as other parts of the country.”
Federal funding and the participation of P3 Canada will help to accelerate the pipeline, although a recent exodus of construction labour may cause capacity challenges.
— Mario Deschamps, acting vice-president, Social Infrastructure Projects, Infrastructure Québec explained that the province remains open to P3s, citing the new light rail maintenance centre project in Montreal’s borough of Pointe-Saint-Charles.
— Neill McQuay, chief, Strategic Partnerships Office, Alberta Infrastructure noted that while the province is working to build capacity to take on a number of projects in the P3 pipeline, it could find only one bidder for its Alberta Schools Alternative Procurement IV initiative.
Among contractor concerns: the use of stock plans, low margins, and the requirement for 19 superintendents at locations across the province.
“We want to go back to the market with a good understanding of what the issues were,” he said.
“P3s and alternative financing are important for Alberta — we’re not going to walk away from it.”